Capital One Cup 4th Round Preview
The Capital One Cup is now viewed as a viable trophy for the big six each season and it has become an increasingly important trophy in recent years.
The competition was once considered an inconvenience by many of the top sides in the country, which allowed the likes of Middlesbrough, Blackburn Rovers and Leicester to win the competition at the start of the century.
In the last 10 years, however, the trophy has been won by one of the current ‘big six’ eight times with Manchester United (3), Chelsea (2), Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester City all lifting the League Cup.
And if you think one the big boys can continue that record, William Hill will match your first bet now with a free bet (Max £50 stake).
While Birmingham City didn’t read the script in 2011, stunning Arsenal with a 2-1 victory over the Gunners with Obafembi Martins hitting the famous winning.
Manchester United will not add another League Cup title to their trophy cabinet this year, of course, with the Red Devils falling to a humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of the League One side MK Dons in the second round.
Chelsea, City, Spurs, Liverpool and Everton, however, may all view this years competition as one of their targets.
Manuel Pellegrini gave the competition great importance last year, seeing it a key triumph as they pushed Liverpool and Chelsea for the title.
Winning the first silverware of the season can do you no harm, obviously, and will undoubtedly of helped push the Citizen’s towards their second title in three years.
It was an important victory for the City boss, and it was his first for club, repeating the achievement of Jose Mourinho who won the competition in his debut season in England.
The ‘Special One’ also went to win the Premier League that season, just as City did last year, and there is no doubt winning the competition played a major part in both title wins.
Winning a trophy in February/March gives the players a lift and further boost of confidence for the run in, knowing they are already winners.
Whilst the big teams take it more seriously now the same can’t be said for the rest of the Premier League, with the mass second-round exodus highlighting their lack of interest.
It was not just Man Utd who were embarrassed, although no one else lost quite like them.
QPR, Aston Villa, West Ham, Burnley and Leicester were all knocked out by lower league opposition.
The simple fact is surviving in the Premier League is worth a lot more than winning the competition.
And the lower divisions have produced two out of the last three finalists in the competition.
League Two side Bradford City stunned everyone by reaching the final in 2013, knocking out Arsenal, Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa on their way to Wembley before falling to a heavy 5-0 against Swansea.
Cardiff City, meanwhile, reached the final in 2012, losing 3-2 on penalties to Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool at Wembley.
The momentum of knocking a Premier League side out in the early rounds seems to push sides on in the competition and it could happen once again this year.
Sunderland reached the final last year, meanwhile, with a superb victory over Manchester United in the semi-finals.
The Black Cats had early knocked Chelsea out of the competition at the Stadium Of Light along with Southampton.
City were simply too strong in the final, however, and no one from the North East could really have too many complaints about the end result.
While the last three winners of the competition have all been won by managers in their debut season.
So with that being said, Spurs may be a good bet with Mauricio Pochettino, who is enjoying a solid start to his first-season at White Hart Lane.
With the club also involved in the Europa League this year the League Cup may not be his number one priority but it would represent a great start to life in London.
Spurs certainly have the strength in depth to cope with the added fixtures and have won the competition four times, coming runner-up on a further three occasions.
If they can get through the early rounds then they could be a good bet with the 42-year-old keen to impress in his first season at the club.