With no European competitions clogging up their schedules, Chelsea and Liverpool are placing more importance on the English League Cup than usual this season.
They both advanced to the last 16 on Tuesday – but took different routes.
Chelsea came from two goals behind at Premier League champion Leicester, taking an end-to-end game to extra time at 2-2 thanks to goals from defenders Gary Cahill and Cesar Azpilicueta before Cesc Fabregas’ double clinched a 4-2 win.
Liverpool had it much easier, dispatching second-tier Derby in a 3-0 victory with Ragnar Klavan, Philippe Coutinho and Divock Origi scoring the goals.
Chelsea and Liverpool both rested key players but still fielded strong lineups in a bid to stay alive in one of three competitions they’ll enter this season. Liverpool is a record eight-time League Cup winner, while Chelsea is joint-second in the all-time list of trophy winners with five titles.
Leicester has much bigger priorities this season. Aside from attempting to retain its Premier League title, Claudio Ranieri’s team are in the Champions League for the first time and likely will not be too concerned about exiting a competition of the least importance.
Japan forward Shinji Okazaki took advantage of defensive errors to score twice for Leicester at King Power Stadium, but the hosts were undermanned in extra time after Marcin Wasilewski collected his second yellow card in the 89th for elbowing Diego Costa in the face.
Fabregas’s two goals send a message to Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who has marginalized the Spain midfielder at the start of the season.
Here’s a look at other results in the third round on Tuesday, as Premier League teams fared differently against lower-league opposition after rotating their starting lineups:
Norwich 2, Everton 0
Everton failed to transfer its strong Premier League form to the League Cup by losing to second-tier Norwich, which played almost a complete reserve team.
Steven Naismith, a former Everton player, and Norwich double their lead in spectacular style as one of the Murphy twins, Josh, spins with his back to goal maybe 18 yards out, unleashes a left-footed strike that whizzes in off the underside of the bar!
Everton has been the surprise of the Premier League so far, currently sitting in second place after an unbeaten start that includes four wins in five games. The team’s last piece of major silverware came in 1995.
Arsenal 4, Nottingham Forest 0
Lucas Perez, a recent signing from Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna, scored twice in the second half for his first goals for Arsenal.
Granit Xhaka scored from long range – as he did against Hull in the Premier League on Saturday – to put Arsenal ahead and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain wrapped up the victory for a visiting team featuring a mix of youth-team players and fringe squad members.
Preston 3, Bournemouth 2
Bournemouth joined Everton in exiting the competition, meaning six Premier League teams have been eliminated so far.
Danish striker Simon Makienok scored a hat trick for second-tier Preston, with his second goal coming in the 85th minute to take the game into extra time and his third clinching the win in the 111th minute.
Fresh off a heavy defeat at Manchester City, Bournemouth played an entire second-string team.
In games between League Championship teams, Reading won 2-1 at Brighton, Leeds won 1-0 at home to Blackburn and Newcastle beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0.Report Typo/Error