Carling Cup Winners
The Football League Cup, currently known, for sponsorship reasons, as the Carling Cup, is a knockout competition, open to the 92 teams comprising the Premier League, Championship, League One and League Two. The Carling Cup winners qualify for the UEFA Cup (being renamed the UEFA Europa League for 2009) assuming they have not achieved European qualification by some other means. For example, if the Carling Cup winners have already qualified for the UEFA Champions’ League, the UEFA Cup place is give to the highest-placed, non-European qualifier in the Premiership. Nine out of last ten finals have been won by Premier League sides, justifying their Carling Cup odds, the only exception being Leicester City’s 2-1 triumph over Tranmere in 2000. In the same period, the top clubs have collected at short Carling Cup final odds, with Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs all winning the trophy twice, along with a win for Manchester United in 2006.
Carling Cup Match Betting
Despite leading to European qualification, it seems that the bigger clubs view the Carling Cup as a low-priority competition, often fielding “second-string” sides. Whilst this gives their younger players valuable experience in the “big time”, it makes betting on matches at short Carling Cup odds a precarious exercise for punters. The performance of the top sides can be unpredictable, as demonstrated by the 4th round exit of both Chelsea and Liverpool in the 2008-09 competition. At a short price in the Carling Cup odds, Chelsea suffered a major upset, losing 5-4 on penalties to Burnley, after a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. Liverpool, also at short Carling Cup odds, were well beaten by current Cup holders Spurs, a brace apiece from Roman Pavlyuchenko and Fraizer Campbell securing a 4-2 victory at White Hart Lane. The unpredictable performance of the top sides, at short Carling Cup odds is further demonstrated by an Arsenal team, featuring eight teenagers, demolishing a full-strength Wigan side 3-0, while Manchester United needed a second-half Carlos Tevez penalty to dismiss Championship side Q.P.R. 1-0.
The quarter-final draw sees Burnley welcome Arsenal (second-best in the Carling Cup final odds) to Turf Moor, where their Carling Cup odds will be healthy to repeat their “giant-killing” win over Chelsea. Cup holders, Spurs are drawn away to Championship strugglers, and Carling Cup odds outsiders, Watford. Despite a Premiership resurgence under Harry Redknapp’s guidance, their away form has never been great and are worth opposing at short Carling Cup odds. Blackburn Rovers seek to follow up their away win at Sunderland, but Paul Ince’s charges face a tough task away to Manchester United, favourites in the Carling Cup final odds. The other quarter-final sees Stoke take on Derby County. The Potters’ form at the Britannia Stadium has been sound and they should justify favouritism in the Carling Cup odds over the Championship-struggling Rams.
The likely semi-finalists are the favourites in the Carling Cup final odds, Manchester United and Arsenal. They will probably be joined by Stoke (whose Carling Cup final odds are healthy), while Spurs should beat Watford, although this is the least confident selection. If they can avoid the top two in the semi-finals, Stoke City, at rewarding Carling Cup final odds, have every chance, and are a sporting selection.