As seen in the past, the Carabao Cup provides a platform for players, young and old, to seize the opportunity and shine on the biggest stage of them all, and with the Quarter-Final in less than a fortnight, who might be the star of the show in the next round?
We take a look at some potential candidates or ‘ones to watch’…
Ben White – Arsenal
Arsenal have proved to be a stumbling block for their opposition in the Carabao Cup so far, scoring 11 goals in three games, and preserving a trio of clean sheets.
Although he didn’t appear in the Gunners’ 6-0 rout against West Bromwich Albion or the 3-0 win over AFC Wimbledon, Ben White put in Man of the Match-worthy performance against Leeds United as the North Londoners secured passage to the Quarter-Final in the wake of a 2-0 victory over the Whites.
And it wasn’t just his defensive abilities that earned him plaudits from Arsenal fans, but his attacking prowess, too. In particular, the centre-back left his England team-mate Kalvin Phillips somewhat red in the face after some neat footwork saw him nutmeg the Leeds attacker.
Danny Ward – Leicester City
For a shot-stopper whose only Club outings have come in the Carabao Cup this season, Leicester City shot-stopper Danny Ward looked especially sharp as the Foxes saw off Brighton and Hove Albion in a penalty shoot-out in Round Four.
Keeping out two of Brighton’s spot-kicks out of the net, Ward was the hero as the Foxes secured passage to the Quarter-Final, building on a clean sheet in Round Three as Leicester ousted Millwall from the competition.
But could the Welshman stake a claim between the sticks in the Quarter-Final?
Davinson Sánchez – Tottenham Hotspur
Davinson Sánchez’s Tottenham Hotspur twice came close to Carabao Cup glory in the last three years, but just not close enough. Beaten by Chelsea in the 2019 Semi-Final and then by Manchester City in 2021, the North Londoners will be hoping to go one better this year, with the Cityzens now out of the picture.
And the Colombian will be looking to play his part in getting Spurs there, having featured in both of Tottenham’s Round Three and Round Four triumphs against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Burnley respectively.
Kai Havertz – Chelsea
Chelsea midfielder Kai Havertz has been known to rise to the occasion in the Carabao Cup, having bagged his first-ever goal in Blues colours – and his first senior-hat-trick, at that – in the competition last year, as the West Londoners booked their place in Round Four, beating Barnsley 6-0.
And it was the 22-year-old who scored the opener against Southampton in Round Four back in October. Although his strike was cancelled out by Che Adams, Chelsea eventually progressed on penalties and Havertz’s heroics earned him a place in the Carabao Cup Team of the Round.
Can we expect more of the same from the German in the Quarter-Final?
Marcus Forss – Brentford
The competition’s leading scorer Marcus Forss will be looking to add to his tally when the Bees host Chelsea in the Quarter-Final.
Finnish striker Forss – who is named in WhoScored’s Carabao Cup best XI so far – opened his Carabao Cup account as Brentford breezed past Forest Green Rovers in Round Two, seeing off Rob Edwards’ side 3-1. The forward followed it up with a quadruple in Round Three as the West Londoners vanquished Oldham Athletic 7-0, completing his hat-trick by the half-time whistle.
And although he didn’t make the scoresheet in Round Four, he did manage to give Ivan Toney a helping hand in setting up Brentford’s second of the night against Stoke City, as last year’s Semi-Finalists booked their place in the 2021/22 Quarter-Final.
Michail Antonio – West Ham United
As West Ham United’s only senior striker among David Moyes’ ranks, the pressure falls on Michail Antonio to come up with the goods in the Quarter-Final when the Hammers, who have already seen off Manchester United and Manchester City in the Carabao Cup, lock horns with cross-city rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Earlier in the week, former West Ham man Dean Ashton highlighted the upcoming talent on show in the Carabao Cup this season, having come through the EFL, and Antonio is the prime example. Making his debut at Cheltenham Town in 2009 on loan from Reading, the 31-year-old earned a Premier League move to the Hammers in 2015.
Ross Stewart – Sunderland
Having already hit double figures in the Sky Bet League One this season, with 11 goals to his name, Sunderland striker Ross Stewart is still vying for that all-important Carabao Cup strike to open his competition account.
The Black Cats have had the longest journey of all to reach the Quarter-Final, seeing off Port Vale in Round One before moving on to Blackpool, whom Sunderland came from behind to defeat and book their place in Round Three. Wigan Athletic awaited but Lee Johnson’s side made light work of the Latics, and eventually edged Queens Park Rangers on penalties in Round Four.
A goal against Arsenal in the Quarter-Final would put the icing on the cake for the Scotsman.
Takumi Minamino – Liverpool
Attacking duo Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi have struck up a fruitful partnership in the Carabao Cup this season, acting as the source for Liverpool’s firepower with the pair scoring the Reds’ five goals between the two of them.
The 26-year-old, who was at the double against Norwich City in Round Three before taking his tally up to three strikes in Round Four, grabbing a goal against Preston North End, narrowly missed out on breaking a Reds record, when Minamino could have become the first player to score twice in consecutive rounds in 25 years, breaking Robbie Fowler’s 1996 record.