Manchester City take on West Ham United in the last 16 of the EFL Cup at the London Stadium on Wednesday night.
With five years since they last lost an EFL Cup tie, a record-equalling four trophies in a row and six titles in the last eight seasons – Man City’s domination in this tournament over recent years has been quite remarkable.
If they win it again this year, it would mean they become the first to lift the trophy five seasons in a row, not to mention seeing them move out on their own as the most successful club in the competition’s history, overtaking the current record they share with Liverpool.
Liverpool are the only team to have enjoyed a longer unbeaten run in the competition, going 25 ties without being knocked out between 1980 and 1984, but Man City are also closing in on that record and victory on Wednesday would see their streak extend to 22.
Such success demonstrates that big teams do take this competition particularly seriously, and Pep Guardiola has developed a philosophy that every piece of silverware is both winnable and desirable for his squad.
City now go into this last-16 tie on a run of three successive wins across all competitions, scoring 11 goals in that time, including nine in their last two away outings.
West Ham, however, will not be easy opponents, and have so far made light work of their busy schedule this season, posting a perfect Europa League record in addition to their top-four Premier League spot.
In terms of fitness, Raheem Sterling missed out at the weekend due to lower back pain and, while there is some hope he may recover in time for Wednesday, Guardiola is unlikely to take any unnecessary risks. Ferran Torres is also sidelined and will not feature again this year due to a metatarsal injury, while Liam Delap is absent with an ankle problem.
The Czech players Vladimir Coufal and Alex Kral will likely not be fit, with the former needing a rest after carrying an injury for a number of weeks and the latter testing positive for COVID-19.
Look for City to win this one comfortably. Despite West Ham’s recent form, the star-studded lineup of City and Guardiola’s reputation for taking this competition seriously should mean an easy win.