If England’s Premier League is dominated by the so-called ‘big four’ year after year, then no-one seems to be reading the script in this year’s Capital One Cup competition! After Tuesday night defeats for both Arsenal and the holders Chelsea, Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United joined them last night, as Middlesbrough held their nerve in a tense penalty shoot-out. That potentially leaves the mighty Manchester City in pole position to lift this year’s trophy, but you wouldn’t bet against further shocks on the road to Wembley.

“Lucky” win for Boro according to van Gaal

Van Gaal thought that Boro were fortunate to come through at Old Trafford on penalties 3-1, following a goalless score-line after extra-time.

The ‘lottery’ saw England internationals Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Ashley Young all fail to convert in front of their home crowd. After last year’s disappointment against MK Dons, it was a timely reminder of what makes cup competitions so interesting for the neutrals.

Klopp’s first victory

Elsewhere, Liverpool were 1-0 winners over Bournemouth at Anfield to hand new manager Jurgen Klopp his first victory in charge, after three successive draws in all competitions. As with many teams still left in the competition, squad rotation allowed rare starts for Roberto Firmino and Portuguese youngster Joao Teixeira. The two attackers combined to create the decisive goal, Teixeira’s impudent back heel being cleared only for Nathaniel Clyne to score his first goal for the club.

Saints power past Villa

Southampton were far more convincing in their success over managerless Aston Villa than the 2-1 score-line suggested. They had Maya Yoshida and Italian hot-shot Graziano Pelle to thank for the goals that booked their last-eight place, despite a late penalty from Scott Sinclair reducing the arrears for Villa.

Ruthless City display

Manchester City ruthlessly ended Crystal Palace’s cup run with an emphatic 5-1 victory. Belgian star Kevin De Bruyne continued his fine goal-scoring run, adding to Wilfried Bony’s earlier header. The contest was effectively over as Kelechi Iheanacho and a Yaya Toure penalty added some gloss to the performance.

The visiting Palace fans at least had Damien Delaney’s consolation goal to cheer them on their way home, but Manuel Garcia had the final word for the home side.

Quarter-final draw

The draw for the quarter-finals produced just the one all-Premier League contest between the Saints and Liverpool. The blue half of Manchester had their favourite’s tag enhanced with a plum home draw against Championship side Hull City:

Middlesbrough vs Everton

Southampton vs Liverpool

Stoke City vs Sheffield Wednesday

Manchester City vs Hull City

The four ties are scheduled to be played on December 1st or 2nd.