Nottingham Forest will be targeting revenge in this League Cup clash. After all, it was their last gasp defeat at Oakwell on the penultimate weekend that kickstarted their end-of-season collapse that saw them embarrassingly miss out on a play-off place.
Barnsley managed to pull off the great escape three days later by thwarting another side’s promotion ambitions when they notched a last gasp winner at Brentford. The unlikely manner of their relegation escape will have left Barnsley bouncing over the short break and they should be raring to go again on Saturday.
However, there is no escaping that they would be playing League One football right now if Wigan weren’t hit with a 12-point deduction and their upturn in form at the end of the season simply papered over the cracks. They have not signed enough bodies and look set for another troubling season.
Forest, on the other hand, have signed well so far this transfer window, especially with the acquisition of Lyle Taylor on a free transfer. The big question is whether they can lift themselves after such a traumatic end to last season. Their thirst for some sort of revenge should see Forest Win on Saturday.
How the mighty have fallen. What was a Premier League fixture three years ago has now become a first-round League Cup fixture between two League One sides and it’s hard to tell whose fall from grace has been more embarrassing.
Sunderland’s decline has been well documented in ‘Sunderland Till I Die’ and their back-to-back relegations are now a thing of the recent past.
Hull’s capitulation during the second half of last season, however, is altogether fresher and arguably more embarrassing. The Tigers picked up just six points from a possible 60 between New Year’s Day and the final day of the season and dropped into League One with a whimper.
They have not inspired any confidence with their business during the transfer window and prospects of them making an immediate return to the Championship are bleak. This should be a comfortable Sunderland win.
These sides endured such differing finales last season that it is hard to see how Norwich pick themselves up. The Canaries brief return to the top-flight ended in embarrassment as they failed to register so much as a point following the restart.
They’ve managed to keep their squad together and sign a number of promising players – Kieran Dowell and Jordan Hugill have proved their ability at Championship level while Oliver Skipp represents a good loan signing.
However, their squad is now simply too big and they need to remove a lot of deadwood before the window closes.
Luton, on the other hand, pulled off a great escape to rival Barnsley’s by collecting 16 points from their nine games after football’s resumption. The Hatters could pull of something of an upset on Saturday.
Birmingham, if possible, were even worse than Hull in the nine games following the restart. Their poor run of form rivals Hull’s and they haven’t won a game since the start of February, a winless run of 14 league games.
They are fortunate that the season ended when it did, as they would have probably been relegated if it stretched out for another week or two, but they managed to just about survive. This should be an opportunity for Birmingham to turn a new leaf.
They have appointed Aitor Karanka as manager, a man with proven experience at Championship level, and Cambridge United, their opponents on Saturday, haven’t played competitively since March.
The League Two club finished an uninspiring 16th last season and it’s hard to see them causing an upset at St. Andrews against a rejuvenated Birmingham who should win comfortably on the handicap.
Tips for Saturday’s Carabao Cup games at 15:00
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