The second round of the EFL Cup begins tonight, as a number of the Premier League’s elite come up against opponents from the Football League on the first step towards a potential Wembley final.
The headline tie of the night is an East London derby, with Charlton Athletic heading north of the Thames to take on West Ham United.
Recently relegated to League One, Charlton made a great start to ensuring their route back up to the Championship when beating Crewe Alexander at Gresty Road at the weekend, with goals from Conor Washington and Alfie Doughty.
In contrast, West Ham endured a nightmare start to the season with a dour 0-2 defeat to Newcastle United at the London Stadium. David Moyes’ side will be keen to return to winning ways in the League Cup tonight, given that a daunting run of fixtures – including games with Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool – awaits them in the Premier League.
West Ham have won just one of their last six games against the Addicks and the most recent meeting between these two clubs ended as a 4-0 win for Charlton at The Valley. Charlton manager Lee Bowyer will be keen to maintain his side’s winning momentum as he faces the side he once represented in his playing days.
Aston Villa went all the way to the final in last season’s League Cup, eventually suffering heartbreak at Wembley in a 1-2 defeat to Manchester City. Tonight, Villa’s opponents are League One Burton Albion.
Aston Villa’s Premier League campaign is yet to start – their match with Manchester City postponed due to Pep Guardiola’s side requiring a prolonged pre-season break – whereas 10-man Burton lost to Fleetwood Town at the weekend.
The most recent meeting between these two came in the first round of this very competition two years ago, with Burton Albion emerging as 1-0 winners at the Pirelli Stadium. However, Villa may have the wind in their sails given today’s news that Jack Grealish has signed a new five-year contract.
A new-look Newcastle United looked great when winning away at West Ham at the weekend. Tonight, the Magpies meet Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers.
Will Newcastle manager Steve Bruce see the League Cup as a good opportunity for silverware, or will he see it as a good opportunity to give his fringe players a run-out? Either way, Rovers will provide a stern test despite falling 3-2 at Bournemouth at the weekend.
Blackburn are unbeaten in their last two trips to St. James Park and have lost just one of the last four meetings between these clubs.
Crystal Palace enjoyed a solid 1-0 win over Southampton at the weekend, to get their Premier League campaign off to a great start.
The Eagles take on Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium tonight, where the Cherries put Blackburn to the sword with a 3-2 win upon their return to Championship football.
Bournemouth have won just one of their last eight games against Palace, with the Eagles winning both of last season’s Premier League matches between the sides without conceding a goal.
Tonight’s EFL Cup fixtures in full:
Millwall v Cheltenham Town
Reading v Luton Town
Gillingham v Coventry City
Middlesbrough v Barnsley
Derby County v Preston North End
Bradford City v Lincoln City
Oxford United v Watford
Fleetwood Town v Port Vale
Newport County v Cambridge United
Newcastle United v Blackburn Rovers
West Ham United v Charlton Athletic
Rochdale United v Sheffield Wednesday
Bournemouth v Crystal Palace
Burton Albion v Aston Villa
Morcambe v Oldham Athletic
Leyton Orient v Plymouth Argyle