Erling Braut Haaland’s ability to come off the bench is a luxury that Pep Guardiola does not take for granted, but the Norwegian talisman acknowledged that his life’s most nerve-wracking moment was taking the game-winning penalty against Fulham.
Even though Julian Alvarez scored the game’s first goal, Man City fell behind when Joao Cancelo was sent off for a last-man foul on Harry Wilson.
Andreas Pereira stepped up to convert the ensuing penalty, but after Kevin De Bruyne was ruled to have been struck in the area, it was Haaland’s turn from 12 yards.
Ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno so nearly did his old club a favour, but Haaland’s spot kick squirmed under his grasp to seal a narrow win for the champions, who had briefly gone to the top of the rankings before Arsenal responded with victory over Chelsea a day later.
The EFL Cup has been Man City’s bread and butter under Guardiola, deflecting interest away from the Premier League supremacy, but their streak of four consecutive titles in the competition was brought to an end by West Ham United in a shocking fourth-round exit last year.
The most recent time this happened was in 2012–13 under Roberto Mancini, but the eight-time champions have never been eliminated in the third round under Guardiola, and they have won each of their last 15 games at the Etihad in all competitions.
Although Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang didn’t take it personally, the former Arsenal captain’s comments were quickly made fun of by Gabriel Magalhaes, who scored the game’s lone goal as the Gunners duly defeated a lacklustre Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea remained motionless as Gabriel poked Bukayo Saka’s 63rd-minute corner into the roof of the net. As discontent with Graham Potter grows early on, Chelsea fell further behind their counterparts from the capital in the table.
Finishing top of their Champions League group has been a silver lining amid the Blues’ dismal Premier League run, as Potter’s side have now failed to win any of their last four games in the top flight and have hardly been handed the easiest EFL Cup tie to try to reverse their fortunes.
Chelsea advanced all the way to the EFL Cup final last season before losing on penalties to Liverpool. The five-time champions, who most recently won the trophy in 2015, have not lost in the third round of a competition since the 2010–11 competition.
In the 2021–22 Premier League season, Man City defeated Chelsea twice by scores of 1-0, and the match on Wednesday will be the two teams’ first encounter in the EFL Cup since Guardiola’s team defeated the Blues on penalties in the 2019 final.
Playing at the Etihad, Manchester City rarely lose a game, and given that, it should come off as no surprise that they are the heavy favourites heading into this one.
Even with a top 6 side like Chelsea on the other end, a Man City win stands at 1.52, while the odds of a Chelsea win is at 8.50.
A stalemate stands at 5.05.