Man Utd ‘bully’ among five Premier League players who cocked up their Carabao Cup chance

Matt Stead
Diego Costa appeals

A couple of misfiring strikers, two rare English right-backs and an apparent Man Utd ‘bully’ had chances to impress in the Carabao Cup but duly wasted them.


Diego Costa
There are better times to chuck in an inadequate performance. With Matheus Cunha headed to Molineux as the first signing of Julen Lopetegui’s reign, Diego Costa continued his wait for a first goal in English football since May 2017.

Not that it was for the want of trying. The Spaniard had five shots against Gillingham but only one found its target, forcing a save from Jake Turner. Costa was otherwise ineffective, offering precious little yet again as the focal point of a blunt attack.

Lopetegui warned the striker, making his return after a three-match ban, to “push the bad things away” out of an increasingly forlorn hope that Wolves might “see his character, playing football, not making silly things”. It might be time to accept the gamble hasn’t worked.


Ainsley Maitland-Niles
It started with a wild attempt at a clearance which bounced off his standing foot and looped up into Gavin Bazunu’s goal and ended with a stint at right-back, with some askew passes, faulty touches and questionable decisions in between. Ainsley Maitland-Niles has had more enjoyable evenings.

Southampton scraped past Lincoln and not even a handful of players emerged with credit in the bank. Che Adams played well, Duje Caleta-Car stabilised the defence from the bench at half-time and Samuel Edozie impressed in a late cameo. But Lyanco, Adam Armstrong and Maitland-Niles must have left Nathan Jones wondering what he had inherited.

The new Southampton manager might well be the latest to fail at solving the Maitland-Niles riddle. Is he versatile or just not good enough to find consistency in one position, never mind a single club? Arsenal do not miss him and on this evidence nor would his third loan club in under two years.


Adam Smith
‘Found himself penned back around his own penalty area for sustained periods,’ according to Dorset Live, who added that Adam Smith was given ‘a stern test’ by Allan Saint-Maximin before scoring the unfortunate own goal which dumped Bournemouth out of the cup.

It’s at least a little bit weird that Adam Smith remains a relative Bournemouth regular as 2023 approaches. That can’t be right. The global overpopulation of right-backs continues unabated but still the Cherries cling to their defensive safety blanket. At least do it properly and bring Steve Cook and Charlie Daniels back


Deniz Undav
While his 106 goals over the last eight years have come in such esteemed leagues as the third and fourth tiers of German football and the highest and second-highest divisions in Belgium, there was never any guarantee that Deniz Undav would be the latest diamond to be unearthed and shone up real nice by Brighton.

“I thought it would be hard, but it’s even harder than I thought,” Undav said recently. “It’s an opportunity for me to be even more ready than before and, if I get the chance, to play. It’s not the farmer’s league, it’s the best league in the world.”

Ninety-three minutes across eight substitute appearances in the Premier League is a tough diet for any striker to live on but the Carabao Cup offered potential salvation. Undav scored in the second round against Forest Green and was given a start against Charlton. But Roberto De Zerbi brought the striker off after 79 minutes of their shoot-out defeat and Danny Welbeck is unlikely to be fearing for his place jut yet.


Scott McTominay
Martin Dubravka gave David de Gea his best night’s sleep in years with an erratic display against Burnley. He and apparent Man Utd bully Scott McTominay were the only negative points from a successful evening at Old Trafford.

While McTominay felt sufficiently moved to deny any suggestion he had been tormenting teenager Alejandro Garnacho during training, he could have done with imposing himself more against Vincent Kompany’s Championship leaders.

This was an opportunity for McTominay to rise up the midfield pecking order. The 26-year-old has not started in the Premier League since the 6-3 defeat to Manchester City at the start of October, during which he was taken off after 59 minutes. With Casemiro dropping back into the centre of the Man Utd defence it was McTominay alongside Eriksen, but the only player who looked fresh and focused was the one returning from World Cup duty.

Stunning assist for Marcus Rashford though.