Manchester City have often taken the Carabao Cup more seriously than their rivals but this season's competition carries added significance.
The Blues won the trophy four times consecutively between 2018 and 2021, with Pep Guardiola using the cup as an early opportunity to win silverware and a springboard to further success. Last season, an unlikely quarter-final exit to Southampton prevented City from reclaiming their crown.
Rather than solely being used as an opportunity to give fringe players some much-needed minutes, Guardiola has often viewed the League Cup as an important competition. Speaking after lifting the trophy in 2019, he said: “This is the only country that in February you can win a title. I think [it's good] for the mood.”
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However, a trip to Newcastle United on Wednesday threatens to end their Carabao Cup journey before it's even started. Eddie Howe’s side reached the final last term and will be desperate to win the club’s first major trophy since 1955. Earlier this season, it was only a superb strike from Julian Alvarez that proved to be the difference between the two sides at the Etihad.
The upcoming game represents more than an early cup clash between two quality sides, though. It is the first major hurdle that City must clear in order to go one step further than their magical treble-winning campaign.
Last season, the pieces seriously began to fall into place for City in early May as the club leapfrogged Arsenal into top spot in the Premier League table.
Less than a week later, City drew with Real Madrid in the away leg of their ChampionsRead on manchestereveningnews.co.uk