So far in the 2015 2016 Capital One Cup (also known as the Football League Cup), we haven't seen a ton of big surprises. The first two rounds of the tournament went more or less as expected, with all of the biggest soccer clubs (Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, etc.) making it to round three intact. However, the Capital One Cup third round matches, played on September 22nd and 23rd, brought arguably the first big development of the tournament so far the elimination of Tottenham Hotspur.
Tottenham Make an Early Exit
Tottenham Hotspur, of course, were one of the most successful soccer clubs in the Capital One Cup last year. Spurs went all the way to the finals, beating teams like Nottingham Forest, Brighton & Hove Albion, Newcastle United, and Sheffield United to earn a shot at the title. They ultimately lost the championship match in a 0-2 defeat against Chelsea, but their tournament run was successful nonetheless. In addition, Tottenham have won the League Cup on four previous occasions, most recently in 2008.
In other words, the Spurs have a fairly strong track record in the Capital One Cup, and will likely win it again someday. "Someday" won't be in 2016, though, as the Spurs have now been eliminated from the League Cup tournament.
Even in spite of Tottenham's strong run last season, their defeat in the third round of the 2015 2016 tournament wasn't really an upset. Rather, the loss was a result of a surprisingly competitive match-up. For the round, the Spurs were drawn against Arsenal and ended up losing the game 1-2.
This particular match-up was an oddly high-profile one to have so early on the competition. Last season, Tottenham Hotspur didn't play an opponent as tough as Arsenal until they met Chelsea in the finals. It's unfortunate that a pair of such strong clubs had to play one another so soon, but Tottenham's early exit is an interesting development in what has otherwise been a predictable tournament so far. The match was also a big win for Arsenal, who were eliminated from the Capital One Cup in the third round last year, following an upset loss to Southampton.
The Rest of the Field
Other than the early Hotspur elimination, the third round of the 2015 2016 Capital One Cup played out more or less as expected. For example, the reigning Cup champs Chelsea, despite their struggles in the Premier League, beat third-tier club Walsall handily (4-1) to secure a spot in the round of 16. Both Manchester football clubs also acquitted themselves well, with City winning 4-1 in an away match against Sunderland, and United beating Ipswich Town 3-0.
Surprisingly, the biggest winners of round three were Southampton. While the Saints are only sitting ninth on the Premier League table, they scored a huge 6-0 victory against the Milton Keynes Dons for their first appearance in the 2015 2016 League Cup. The match featured braces from three Southampton players: Jay Rodriguez, Sadio Mane, and Shane Long.
Liverpool, meanwhile, managed to skate through to the next round-albeit, only narrowly. The Reds, who have struggled in the Premier League as well, had to go to penalty kicks in their round-three match against Carlisle United. Carlisle-a fourth-tier club in England's football system-ultimately lost the shootout 2-3. Still, the close nature of the match can't be comforting for Liverpool fans.
Elsewhere, Hull City beat Swansea City, Leicester City topped West Ham United, Aston Villa edged out Birmingham City, Everton bested Reading, and Norwich City defeated West Bromwich Albion. The second biggest surprise of the third round, after Tottenham's elimination, was Newcastle United's defeat at the hands of second-tier club Sheffield Wednesday.
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