Everton get their League Cup campaign underway tonight at 8:15pm against Salford City of League two who beat Rotherham United on penalties in the previous round. Everton are playing in these early rounds due to the fact they did not qualify for Europe last year and will clearly be favourites for the tie. With a very short pre-season having been played it may give Everton manager Carlo Ancleotti a chance to get his players fit and sharp for the upcoming game against West Brom on the weekend.
So due to that he could play his strongest team to make sure their fitness levels are at the best they can possibly be which would mean trouble for Salford City as the three new additions would yet again be starting and undoubtedly impressing just like they all did in the 1-0 away win against Spurs last Sunday. It may be worth carrying the momentum from players such as Allan and Rodriguez into the midweek game however in the back of Ancelotti’s mind he will be thinking about potential injuries to his star men which would be a devastating blow so early on into the new season.
Players who were not in the squad for the Spurs game could be reintegrated for the game tonight. Two senior players who did not even get on the bench were Alex Iwobi and Fabian Delph. The latter was due to an injury but Iwobi was reportedly not injured so it was out of choice that the winger was completely left out so it shall be interesting to see whether Iwobi is involved. Two youngsters who will likely get some action are Anthony Gordon and Jarrad Branthwaite. The pair impressed heavily in the restart last season and will be seeking their first chance to play in the new season so a cup tie may be just what they need.
With press conferences not a necessity for the early rounds we did not hear anything of what Ancleotti might have said in person but instead Everton released some programme notes from the Italian. The Italian shared the view that the League cup is “one of our targets” as Everton look to end their horrid run of 25 years without a trophy. Ancelotti also said that “It is crucial straight away to show we will be confident in our stadium this season.” Ancelotti will certainly be wanting to make a statement in this competition this season.
Salford City will be up for the challenge as a big upset will more than likely give them huge momentum to carry into their league campaign. Also, if anyone doubted that they will be up for it their official Twitter accounted stated that Everton are “simply the BIGGEST opponent in our history” so the Salford side will be relishing the opportunity.
An upset for Salford or a chance for Everton to start a serious challenge for a trophy, we shall see.
Written by Elliot Thompson