Liverpool face Chelsea at Anfield on Wednesday in the third round of the English Football League (EFL) Cup. The Cup competition is of course currently known as the Carabao Cup due to sponsorship reasons; although it will always be the Carling Cup to me!
The EFL Cup
The competition is considered to be the second-most important domestic competition in England after the F.A. Cup as it involves a total of 92 football clubs (72 members of the EFL and the 20 members of the Premier League). In recent years though, certain clubs have taken a more derisive view due to the number of fixtures. However, for the true football fan it is an enjoyable competition, especially when lower league teams shine against the perceived giants of the game. Established in 1960, the League Cup fixtures take place in midweek and is the first professional competition that is decided in the season; with the winners receiving automatic entry into the following season’s third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. In the event that the winners already qualify for Europe via other means, the entry will go to the highest-placed PL team that has not already qualified. It runs over seven rounds which begins in August each year and Premier League clubs who have qualified for Europe only join the competition as of round three, whilst the PL clubs who have not qualified join at the start of round two.
The EFL Cup Final and its Winners
The Cup has been won by 23 different sides since the competition’s inception and Liverpool hold the record as the most successful club in its history with a total of eight titles. Chelsea, Aston Villa and current holders Manchester City, are in second place on the all-time winners list with five titles each. The finals of the competition have been played as a single match at Wembley Stadium since 1967; the only tie in the competition held at a neutral venue and played on a Sunday. The Millenium Stadium in Cardiff was used following the demolition of the old Wembley stadium from 2001 until the rebuild was completed in 2007. Manchester City defeated Arsenal 3 – 0 on 25 February 2018 to win their fifth title.
There have been several rule changes this year (courtesy of the Liverpool Echo):
Extra time will no longer be used, with all matches going straight to penalties.
The ABBA penalty format has now been ditched - with shootouts reverting to the traditional ABAB system.
Yellow cards picked up in the Carabao Cup will now only relate to that tournament, rather than affecting all domestic competitions.
VAR will now be used in all matches played in Premier League stadia.
Seedings for this year’s competition have now been removed - although the second round will still be split into northern and southern regions.
Liverpool’s EFL Cup History
As mentioned earlier, Liverpool have won the Cup on eight occasions, winning their first EFL Cup in 1981 which was the same year the League Cup became the first major Cup competition to bear the name of a sponsor – The Milk Cup. Liverpool went on to win four consecutive cup titles between 1981 and 1984 which remains the most consecutive League Cup titles won by any club.
The Reds have played 12 League Cup finals and have been runners-up four times.
EFL Winning Season Results
1981: Liverpool 2 – 1 West Ham United
1982: Liverpool 3 – 1 Tottenham Hotspur
1983: Liverpool 2 – 1 Manchester United
1984: Liverpool 1 – 0 Everton
1995: Liverpool 2 – 1 Bolton Wanderers
2001: Liverpool 1 – 1 Birmingham City; Liverpool won 5 – 4 in a penalty shootout
2003: Liverpool 3 – 0 Manchester United
2012: Liverpool 2 – 2 Cardiff City; Liverpool won 3 – 2 in a penalty shootout
EFL Runner Up Season Results
1978: Nottingham Forest 1 – 0 Liverpool
1987: Arsenal 2 – 1 Liverpool
2005: Chelsea 3 – 2 Liverpool
2016: Manchester City 1 – 1 Liverpool; Manchester City won 3 – 1 in a penalty shootout
With the Reds' current form being the strongest it has been in years, a win this Wednesday against Chelsea is vital to maintain the momentum and the belief that we are on to something special this season. I certainly believe that we are and thusly I am going with a 3 – 1 win to Liverpool.
Up the Mighty Reds!