I quite like the League Cup. Yes, we’re starting with a controversial opinion straight from the off. Many fans dismiss the EFL/League/Carling/Capital One/Coca-Cola Cup as an unnecessary distraction, that serves only to clog up the fixture schedule in January with those pesky two legged semi-finals. Fans of those stereotypical ‘Big Clubs’ may not really care about the competition but allow me to defend the League Cup and point out why it is not a waste of everyone’s time.
The League Cup to me has always held a special place in my heart as it’s the only competition the club I support, Middlesbrough, have ever won. Sure we beat Bolton Wanderers in the Millennium Stadium but Boro did beat Arsenal in the semi-finals during their invincible run. We have seen some genuine shocks in the League Cup in recent years as well, Spurs under Juande Ramos won the trophy in 2008 which is unbelievable in hindsight.
In the fairly recent past we’ve seen sides like Swansea and Birmingham win the trophy, which is always great for mid table clubs that often get left by the wayside. Indeed, Tranmere Rovers managed to get to the final in 2000 before they were dispatched by Leicester City and what have Leicester ever won? I mentioned Swansea’s win above and it’s important to note that they beat Bradford City in the final. Sure they got thrashed 5-0, but they still got to the final despite being a third tier side.
I should probably give a cursory glance towards the final this weekend as Manchester United face Southampton. Jose loves a League Cup. He’s won it three times in his career. While I don’t bare a particularly large grudge against the Red Devils it would be nice to see Southampton win a trophy. The Saints are clearly a very well run club and considering all the world class talent they have produced and then subsequently had bought off them it seems only fair they are rewarded with a trophy.
Manchester United are certainly the favourites for the game however and are unbeaten in ages, despite somehow still sitting in sixth place in the Premier League. They do have a couple of key injuries to contend with which should give Southampton some encouragement but ultimately just have too much quality all over the pitch. I’d predict 2-1 United if I was a betting man.
Also, for some Brucey Bonus trivia, Arsenal have not won the League Cup during Arsene Wenger’s time at the club. For me the Wenger out camp should really be playing this up.