Middlesbrough v. Crystal Palace (Carabao Cup)

Middlesbrough has experienced a very up and down history, in fact, they have nearly as many seasons in the 2nd league as the top tier (45 and 61, respectively). Middlesbrough has been making a strong statement to come back to top-flight soccer. They finished in 5th place last season and qualified for the play off when they lost to Aston Villa in the first playoff round. This season marks Tony Pulis’ first full season in charge of the club, and so far they are sitting at third in the Championship table. At the end of the 2016-2017 Middlesbrough was relegated from the Premier League, and although they missed promotion back on the first ask, they seem reasonably well positioned to make a reasonable run for return. Through 15 games, Middlesborough has gotten 27 points with a goal difference of +9. They haven’t been prolific scorers, but they have conceded 3 goals less than the next best team, and about ½ of what the other top teams have conceded.

Crystal Palace, much like Middlesbrough, has had a varied history about which tier they’ve been in. Palace’s most recent promotion from the Championship came as a result of winning the promotion playoff place in 2012-2013, guaranteeing them Premier League soccer in 2013-2014. Since then, they’ve been able to successfully maintain midtable position, and if they can get onto a little better run of form I think it could happen again. Crystal Palace has gotten off to a rough start this year, securing only 8 points in 10 games with a -6 goal differential. Crystal Palace has struggled to score goals with only 7 scored on the season (2 of which came in their most recent match as part of a 2-2 draw with Arsenal). Palace has had some injury struggles so far this season – with both Scott Dan (DC) and Christian Beneteke (ST) out for the foreseeable future.

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English Football League Cup Primer

The final non-league competition that English Premier League teams compete in is the EFL Cup. And unlike the FA Cup, which every team in the English Football Association competes, the EFL Cup is only open to the top four tiers – the Premier League, the Championship, League One and League Two – of English football. With matches kicking of this tournament starting on August 14th, I figured now would be a great time to give a breakdown of the tournament that runs concurrently with all the other English leagues.

In the Premier League era, which started in 1992-1993, the EFL Cup has never been won by a team outside of the Premier League. However, unlike the FA Cup, teams below the top tier have found some level of success. Bristol City from the Championship was a semifinalist last season, Sheffield United made the semifinals in 2015 while toiling in League One, and Bradford City, a League Two team, played in the final against Swansea City in 2013, the first Tier 4 team in the final in over 50 years.
But of the 104 EFL Cup semifinalists over the 26 completed seasons of the Premier League, 82 teams have been from the Premier League, and only six EFL cup finals have been contested with one team from outside the Premier League – the aforementioned Bradford City team, three teams from the Championship, and two teams from what is now known as League One.

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