Carabao Cup Trophy Carabao Cup Trophy. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

September 21 and 22 see the Third Round of the Carabao Cup — the round when the Premier League big boys join the fray.

Groundhopper Guides offers a preview of some of the more interesting among the 16 games.

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Brief Background: What is the EFL Cup?

This is the 62nd go-round of the English Football League Cup, also known as the EFL Cup, League Cup, or Carabao Cup because it is sponsored by a Thai energy drink company. It’s a knockout competition for all the 92 teams in the top four tiers of the English Football Pyramid. (Here’s a guide to all the leagues and cups of English soccer.)

There are no brackets or seedings, so matchups are set by random draw. The first two rounds in August were split between northern and southern sections and included the Premier League teams not playing in Europe this season. (What does it meant to “get into Europe“?) So it’s in this third round that Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, West Ham Tottenham, and Leicester jump in.

Here’s a look at the whole schedule for the 2021-22 EFL Cup.

Watch the Carabao Cup on TV or Live Stream in the USA


Advertisement Watch the Carabao Cup on ESPN+ in the US.

Third Round League Cup Highlights

While some folks will tell you who’s going to play, who’s going to win, etc., we offer what we call a Groundhopper Guide to the Third Round — ie, the things we think are interesting and can’t wait to see.

Can Rochdale shock Burnley?

If you’re looking for a Premier League team to get shocked, it could be at Turf Moor, where we assume the Clarets will play reserves to rest up for more important league matches, while The Dale of League Two will be dreaming of a trip to Wembley.

How many will Manchester City get?

The (not really) joke is that City’s reserves are probably among the best teams in the league. Poor Wycombe Wanderers of League One may find out the hard way. But what we really mean is how many people will show up at The Etihad to watch?

Dons in the Clock End

AFC Wimbledon, the fan-owned phoenix club from South West London, drew an away game at Arsenal in North London. And here we see one of the great things about these cup ties. In a league game, Arsenal would give the visitors about 3,000 seats. But in the Cup, they are required to give the Dons 9,000! Watch for a whole bunch of rowdy fans behind that goal at The Emirates.

Foxes in The Den

Leicester City get to — or maybe “have to” — play at Millwall, which can be one of the more intimidating (and obscene) places in English football. At the Den they love nothing more than (A) singing how no one likes them and (B) beating Premier League teams. Ask Everton.

A Long Line of Spurs

There are many reasons to admire Wolverhampton Wanderers, from their impressive history to amazing stadium and terrific fans. One of our favorite things about them is where they put the away fans. At most clubs they are tucked into a corner, and sometimes (like at Manchester United) out of sight of the TV cameras.

At Molineux, the away fans — in this case, Tottenham Hotspur supporters — sit the whole length of the pitch in the lower tier. Better yet from our perspective, they are opposite the cameras, making for quite the spectacle. Here are Birmingham City fans making some noise during a Championship game there in 2014:

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