This week's top League Cup performers

Sports Mole selects five players that have made an impact in the Capital One Cup this week.

Now that the season is almost three months old, there are inevitably players at every club in the country who will feel that they haven't been given as much playing time in their respective sides as they would have liked.

With the Premier League action hotting up and European groups reaching a decisive stage, the Capital One Cup acts as the perfect opportunity for those players out in the cold to prove to their manager that they deserve a starting berth on a regular basis.

Below, Sports Mole takes a look at which players have made an impact over the past couple of evenings.

Juan Mata of Chelsea shoots to score his side's second goal during the Capital One Cup Fourth Round match against Arsenal on October 29, 2013© Getty Images
1. Juan Mata

Going into his side's game away at Arsenal, Juan Mata had endured a frustrating time at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, with the Spaniard often finding himself on the bench due to a low work-rate.

However, the 25-year-old was handed an opportunity at the Emirates Stadium to showcase his skills to his boss, and the former Valencia playmaker didn't disappoint.

After being employed in his preferred "number 10" role, Mata linked up well with his fellow attackers during an impressive first-half performance, but it was his impact after the break that caught the eye.

Willian's header fell into the path of Mata, who struck a first-time effort with his right foot that flew into the top corner and ultimately earned Chelsea a place in the quarter-finals.

Javier Hernandez of Manchester United scores from the penalty spot during the Capital One Cup fourth round match between against Norwich City on October 29, 2013© Getty Images
2. Javier Hernandez

Javier Hernandez has found himself consigned to the substitutes' bench since the arrival of David Moyes, but his winning goal against Stoke City last weekend went some way to proving a point to his new boss.

With Robin van Persie struggling with a toe problem, the Mexican was handed a starting role against Norwich City, and the striker didn't disappoint after netting a double against the Canaries to help his side advance.

The first came from the penalty spot after 20 minutes, while he displayed his goal-poaching prowess with a close-range header shortly after the break.

The 25-year-old couldn't complete his hat-trick at Old Trafford, but he has moved himself into contention for a starting spot against Fulham at the weekend.

Man City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon in action against Newcastle during their Capital One Cup Fourth Round match on October 30, 2013© Getty Images
3. Costel Pantilimon

Ahead of Manchester City's trip to Newcastle United, all of the talk revolved around goalkeeper Joe Hart potentially being dropped in favour of his understudy, Costel Pantilimon.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini went ahead and handed the Romanian a start at St James' Park, and the 26-year-old would have impressed his boss with a confident display on Tyneside.

The former Politehnica Timisoara stopper stood firm as Newcastle built up a head of steam before the break, while he remained assured after half time.

However, his save from Papiss Cisse during the opening period of extra time proved pivotal in City's win, and it could be enough for Pantilimon to make his Premier League debut at the weekend.

Peter Lovenkrands of Birmingham City celebrates scoring their third goal during the Capital One Cup Fourth Round match between against Stoke City on October 29, 2013© Getty Images
4. Peter Lovenkrands

Peter Lovenkrands's efforts proved in vain as Birmingham City lost out on penalties to Stoke City, but the Blues wouldn't have played an extra 30 minutes if it wasn't for the exploits of the Danish international.

With his team 3-1 down with 11 minutes remaining, Lovenkrands, who was without a goal this season, was thrown on by manager Lee Clark to try to keep his side in the competition.

The 33-year-old took just six minutes to reduce the deficit after poking home from close range, before pouncing on a rebound in added-on time to stun the Premier League outfit.

The former Rangers man also netted his penalty during the shootout, but it wasn't enough as Birmingham bowed out of the competition at the last-16 stage.

Brad Friedel of Tottenham Hotspur during a pre season friendly match between Colchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at the Colchester Community Stadium on July 19, 2013© Getty Images
5. Brad Friedel

With Hugo Lloris established as the club's number one, Brad Friedel has been left to fulfil a role as backup to the Frenchman, while also featuring in the domestic cup competitions.

Despite reaching the age of 42, Andre Villas-Boas still sees Friedel as a reliable understudy at White Hart Lane, but the American put his team's participation in the Capital One Cup in doubt after fumbling into his own net against Hull City.

However, after 120 minutes of football failed to separate the two sides, Friedel made amends for his previous mistake by saving Hull's first attempt.

The shootout progressed to 8-7 in Tottenham's favour, before Friedel dived to his right to save from Ahmed Elmohamady to secure the club's place in the quarter-finals.

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Ramires of Chelsea is congratulated by Cesar Azpilicueta and team mates after his goal during the Capital One Cup Fourth Round match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on October 31, 2012
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