Carabao Cup: Will Arsenal & Man City be disqualified over substitute rule?

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Arsenal Manchester City Carabao Cup 2017
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Questions have been asked of the competition's four substitutions rule, with some finding the wording of it to be unclear

Since changing its name to the Carabao Cup this season, the tournament has served up a number of bizarre incidents and the fourth round has produced another.

There was some confusion in the first round, before a ball was kicked, when Charlton Athletic were mistakenly drawn twice and then in the second round, the home/away allocations were mixed up. Of course, the decision to stream the third round draw live at 4am also prompted collective bemusement among fans. 

City 9/4 favs to win Carabao Cup

This time, the controversy is swirling around two of England's biggest clubs - Arsenal and Manchester City - and whether or not they will retain their place in the competition over the application of the extra substitution rule in force.


Ilkay Gundogan Manchester City

Arsenal and Manchester City each used four substitutes in their fourth round victories over Norwich City and Wolves respectively.

Now, the issue is not that they used four subs, which is allowed in the competition, but with the timing of their substitutions due to a perceived lack of clarity in the rules.

Both teams made two substitutions during normal time and then made two substitutions during extra time, which has prompted some debate. The confusion seems to stem from the wording of the rule pertaining to the use of four substitutes.

While Arsene Wenger was in no doubt that his team operated within the rules, Norwich boss Daniel Farke was unsure and the Canaries are reportedly going to seek clarification from the EFL.


The rules for substitutions in the Carabao Cup state that, when a game goes to extra time, each club participating in the game is "permitted to use an additional substitute (in extra time only)."

You can read the rule from the competition's rules and regulations  in full below.

Carabao Cup substitutions

10.1 Subject to Rule 10.2, in all matches, each team is permitted up to seven substitutes of whom not more than three may take part in the match.
10.2 Where any match goes to extra time (in accordance with the provisions of Rules 14.4, 14.5 and/or 14.6), then subject to the League having obtained the prior approval of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to the application of this Rule, each Club participating in that match will be permitted to use an additional substitute (in extra time only).

See Rule 19.1 which provides that Clubs must submit an additional monitoring form in relation to the use of any fourth substitute. These forms will be supplied by the EFL in electronic format. 10.3 All substitutes must be nominated and included on the official Team Sheet handed to the Referee prior to the match. Not more than three substitutes of each Club may warm up or down at the same time on the perimeter of the pitch on which the match is being played.


Arsene Wenger Arsenal

It seems highly unlikely that Arsenal and Man City will be ejected from the competition, because, frankly, they seem to have operated within the rules.

Indeed, it is not even the first time this season that clubs have made more than a single substitution during extra time. For example, in the third round game between Bournemouth and Brighton, both teams deployed more than one substitution during extra time.

Bournemouth used two of their four subs during extra time while Brighton made all four of their changes during this period and no issue was made of it then.

What is likely, though, is that the EFL will provide some further clarification to the rule in order to extinguish any lingering confusion.


Pep Guardiola Manchester City

As referenced above, the 2017-18 Carabao Cup has been beset with embarrassing and controversial issues, which have resulted in the competition being mocked on social media.

Draw issues

The competition got life under new sponsorship off to a bad start back in June when the live Facebook stream of the first round draw appeared without sound. Things worsened when Charlton Athletic were drawn twice, which elicited widespread derision and led to the EFL issuing a statement of apology, assuring that the draw was not compromised.

The second round draw also descended into a farce due to the confusion over home and away allocations, with a number of clubs playfully joining in with the mockery that was doing the rounds on social media.

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Carrying on the trend established in the first two rounds, the third round draw took place at 4:15 am - a totally unorthodox approach for a competition in the UK - which left many people flummoxed. The rationale behind the bizarre timing, according to the tournament organisers, was to maximise exposure in Asia.

Complaints about the ball

Following his side's fourth round win over Wolves, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was quick to voice his disapproval of the ball used in the tournament. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss said that the Mitre match-ball was "unacceptable for a high-level competition" and argued that it was "too light" to play with.

City player Yaya Toure echoed Guardiola's complaints, saying that the ball was "rubbish", suggesting that it is even worse than the divisive Adidas 'Jabulani', which was used during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa