EFL Cup Preview
A break in the Premier League action this weekend means it’s the perfect opportunity to take a look at the EFL Cup, the new name for the League Cup for the 2016/17 season.
The League Cup was established in the 1960/61 season, but recently its status has been undermined with some of the big clubs fielding weaker teams throughout the competition. However, this has led to a slight misconception that the poorer teams have a much better chance of winning it. But, in truth, only 2 of the last 10 renewals have been won by a team that doesn’t regularly finish in the top-6 in the Premier League, with Birmingham City winning it in 2011 and Swansea City winning it in 2013. The other 8 renewals have been won by Chelsea (2), Manchester United (2), Manchester City (2), Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
Bearing that in mind, let’s take a look at the record of the bookies’ favourites to finish in the top-6 this year.
Manchester City 8/1
Manchester City have lifted the League Cup on four occasions, with the first two being in 1970 and 1976. However, with two victories in the last 3 years, they are very much the form horse in the event, despite often featuring consistently highly in all domestic competitions, and in the Champions League. Quite what new manager Pep Guardiola will make of the competition is hard to fathom, but they’re possibly overpriced at around 8/1.
Manchester United 13/2
Manchester United have also lifted the trophy four times and, having not opened their account until 1992, they have won three since 2006. However, they’ve not won one outside of the Fergie era, and Jose Mourinho will surely be concentrating his efforts on the winning the Premier League at his first attempt at Old Trafford, and securing their place in next year’s Champions League.
Liverpool have won the League Cup an amazing 8-times, but only once in the last 10 years. However, Jurgen Klopp did guide them to last year’s final, and there’s a feeling that winning the League Cup in his first full season in charge would be deemed a success.
The Blues have won the League Cup 5-times, and three of those have come in the last 12 years. They also have a new manager but, with no place in Europe this season, they may well target this more than some of their rivals.
Spurs have claimed this cup four times, but their 2008 victory was their only triumph this century. They’ll also be spread more thinly than usual this season after claiming a Champions League spot, and I can’t see this being high on their list of priorities.
Although winners in 1987 and 1993, Arsenal have never prioritised the League Cup as they do the FA Cup, although have still made the 2007 and 2011 finals this century. Manager Arsene Wenger has even stated that he doesn’t rate the trophy, and the Gunners looks the safest bet to leave out of calculations.
EFL Cup Summary
A plethora of managerial changes leaves motivations in much doubt, but Liverpool have to be top of the list as Klopp led them to the final last year. If you want to add a second string to your bow, Chelsea may well prioritise this more than the teams in the Champions League.