The EFL Cup or English League Cup has been known by many different names over the years. Currently sponsored by Carabao, it has been previously known as the Capital One, Carling, Coca-Cola and Rumbelows Cup. Although not as prestigious as the FA Cup, it is seen as a major trophy and has been won by one of the Premier League’s ‘big 6’ for the last 5 seasons.
In a busy footballing calendar, there are often plenty of squad changes for EFL Cup matches, so we will pick through the matches on offer to provide the best betting options available, with previews prior to each round.
EFL Cup Betting Tips – 22nd to 24th September 2020
The third round of the 2020-21 Carabao Cup gets underway on Tuesday evening with some tasty-looking ties now the biggest teams in the land are joining the competition. Tottenham Hotspur make the short trip to Leyton Orient, while Manchester United travel to Luton Town. Wednesday night sees a potentially cracking match between Leicester City and Arsenal as well as a couple of giant-killing possibilities. On Thursday, Premier League champions Liverpool take on Lincoln City at Sincil Bank, and Manchester City host Bournemouth.
Leyton Orient v Tottenham Hotspur
18:00, Sky Sports, Brisbane Road
Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur travel to Brisbane Road in EFL Cup action on Tuesday. This is an extremely busy time for Spurs, so we expect Mourinho to chop and change his starting lineup for this one.
Tottenham’s season has finally got going, as they followed up a win in the UEFA Europa League with a thumping 5-2 league success at Southampton last Sunday. Spurs should now ease past EFL League Two outfit Leyton Orient in midweek. Put a few quid on Tottenham to be winning at half time and full time at a very fair price of 11/10.
Luton Town v Man Utd
20:15, Sky Sports, Kenilworth Road
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United take on EFL Championship side Luton at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday night. The Hatters are one of three clubs to have taken maximum points in the Championship so far. However, they are the big underdogs in this one and they will certainly be up against it in this one.
The Red Devils will be hoping to hit back after last weekend’s disappointing defeat to Crystal Palace in the Premier League. Luton will fancy their chances on their own patch, but Ole’s boys should get the job done. Back the away win and both teams to score at odds of 2/1.
Fleetwood Town v Everton
19:45, Sky Sports, Highbury Stadium
Carlo Ancelotti takes his in-form Everton team to Highbury Stadium on Wednesday evening to face Joey Barton’s Fleetwood Town. The Toffees will be gunning for a fourth league and cup victory on the spin and they’ve certainly built up some good momentum in the early stages of the new season.
Fleetwood started the season well too with four straight wins across all competitions, but they were beaten at Peterborough United in EFL League One last Saturday. Everton have secured consecutive wins over Tottenham, Salford City and West Bromwich Albion thus far. In the previous round of the cup, Everton beat Salford 3-0 at Goodison Park in a no-nonsense performance. You can get odds of 17/2 for a repeat scoreline on Wednesday which looks like a decent option to us.
Chelsea v Barnsley
19:45, Stamford Bridge
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea welcome Gerhard Struber’s Barnsley to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. After last weekend’s Premier League loss to champions Liverpool, can the Blues strike back with a win in the cup? Lampard and the fans will expect nothing less than that.
Chelsea, who reached the final of the Emirates FA Cup last term, will want to go far in this season’s Carabao Cup, and the Londoners should cruise past the Championship outfit in midweek. Odds of 5/4 for the hosts to win by three or more goals looks too good to turn down from our point of view.
Leicester City v Arsenal
19:45, King Power Stadium
In the EFL Cup on Thursday night, Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City and Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal square off the King Power Stadium in an all-Premier League tie. Both the Foxes and the Gunners have kicked off their Premier League seasons with back-to-back wins so this promises to be quite a game.
Leicester beat West Brom 3-0 at The Hawthorns in their opener before seeing off Burnley at the King Power on Sunday night. As for Arsenal, they have beaten London sides Fulham and West Ham United thus far but this will be their sternest test to date. This is a tough one to call and could go either way. Therefore, we are backing the draw in the 90 minute market at odds of 9/4.
Lincoln City v Liverpool
19:45, Sky Sports, Sincil Bank
Premier League champions Liverpool get their Carabao Cup journey underway on Thursday. Jurgen Klopp’s men travel to Sincil Bank to play Michael Appleton’s Lincoln of League One. Liverpool are the overwhelming favourites to get the win and book their spot in round four of the competition.
The Imps have made an excellent start to their league season, beating Oxford United and MK Dons to take six points out of a possible six. In fact, they have won all five league and cup matches thus far. However, playing Liverpool these days is a completely different animal to anything Lincoln would be used to, and the Reds should ease past City at Sincil Bank. Check out the solid odds of 5/4 for the away side to win both halves of this one.
Manchester City v Bournemouth
19:45, Etihad Stadium
EFL Cup holders Manchester City begin their defence with a game against Championship side Bournemouth at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday night. Can the Citizens win this trophy for the fourth successive season?
Pep Guardiola’s Man City have dominated this competition in recent years. The EFL Cup is certainly a tournament that Pep likes, and his side should start the 2020-21 edition with a comfortable home win on Thursday. Have a punt on City to win with a -2 goal handicap at odds of 11/10.
EFL Cup Ante Post Betting Tips 2020-2021
The early rounds of the 2020-21 EFL Cup will get underway soon, with the big boys joining the competition at a later date. Holders Manchester City have dominated this competition in recent years, and Pep Guardiola’s men are the favourites to win the League Cup yet again this season. With a league title to regain and increasing desperation to do themselves justice in Europe it won’t be a priority but somehow City always manage to prosper in the EFL.
They have seven League Cups to their name and one more win would move them level with Liverpool as the most successful side in this competition’s 60-year history. Can anyone stop them? Can a non-“Big Four” side win for the first time since Swansea in 2013? Just who will make the final on the 28th February 2021?
The Story Last Season
Man City successfully defended their EFL Cup crown last term, claiming their fifth League Cup since 2014. The Citizens beat Dean Smith’s Aston Villa in the Wembley Stadium final back in March, with goals from Sergio Aguero and Rodri earning the Manchester giants a 2-1 victory in London.
It was a tournament full of shocks and memorable moments, as Colchester United and Oxford United both reached the last eight. Liverpool’s youngsters were knocked out by Villa in the quarter finals, losing 5-0 at Villa Park. Manchester United reached the last four, eventually losing out to rivals City over two legs. Get ready for even more thrills and spills this time with more upsets likely in a compressed season where this competition will struggle to compete with the bigger prizes on offer for many managers and clubs.
Who Will Win the 2020-21 EFL Cup?
Man City have taken this competition very seriously in recent times, lifting the trophy three years in a row. Will anyone be able to stop the Manchester club from winning the tournament this year? The likes of Liverpool, Man Utd and Chelsea are among the favourites but could a dark horse upset the odds?
Manchester City – 3/1
As expected, Guardiola’s Man City are the favourites to win the 2020-21 EFL Cup. Since Pep arrived in England, City have been incredibly strong in the domestic cup competitions, especially in the League Cup. City have won this tournament five times since 2014 and will be bidding for a record-equalling fourth consecutive success here.
Man City’s ultimate ambition of course is to win back the Premier League, while the UEFA Champions League is also high on their priority list. Having said that, Pep seems to love this competition, and City will be the team to beat again. The Citizens are priced at 3/1 to retain the League Cup trophy and given their record and the strength in depth of their squad that has to look like value.
Liverpool – 5/1
Liverpool were the top dogs in the Premier League last term, but Jurgen Klopp’s men were knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup at the fifth round stage, while their youngsters were beaten 5-0 by Aston Villa in the quarter finals of the EFL Cup. Nevertheless, the Reds are the most successful club in League Cup history, winning the tournament eight times. They last won in 2012 though, so fans may think they are overdue a win in this one and would certainly love a day out at Wembley (fingers crossed fans will be allowed by then!).
Like Man City, Liverpool have bigger fish to fry in terms of the Premier League and Champions League but winning the League Cup for the first time in almost a decade would be a welcome bonus for the Reds. The Merseyside outfit are second favourites at odds of 5/1.
Manchester United – 6/1
With Man City and Liverpool expected to battle it out for the Premier League title, winning a cup could be on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s to-do list this season. Of course, Man Utd have Champions League football to contend to, but their squad is big enough and good enough to fight on all fronts.
Having been knocked out in the last four last term, can Solskjaer’s side build on that and go even further this time around? United are one of the favourites, and 6/1 for the Red Devils to lift the EFL Cup are very tempting odds.
Chelsea – 7/1
Frank Lampard had a sensational first season as boss of Chelsea, guiding the Blues to fourth place in the Premier League and a spot in the 2020-21 Champions League. However, despite reaching the final of the FA Cup, Chelsea were knocked out of the EFL Cup in the fourth round.
Chelsea have won this trophy five times, with the last of those wins coming in 2015. Can the Londoners lift the EFL Cup six years on? At the moment, you can get 7/1 for Lampard’s men to go all the way.
Arsenal – 9/1
Arsenal, last season’s FA Cup winners, are available at 9/1 to win the League Cup this year. Incredibly, the Gunners have not won this tournament since the 1992-93 season. Can Mikel Arteta put that right in 2021? The Gunners have a formidable FA Cup record but have suffered in this competition due to Arsene Wenger’s practice of playing youngsters. Might Arteta take it a little more seriously?
He may well do but there is little doubt that Arsenal’s priority will be to get back into the Champions League. They had a poor Premier League campaign last term, but their season was saved by winning the FA Cup. Cup competitions will surely be their best avenue to success once again and odds of 9/1 will appeal to some.
Tottenham Hotspur – 11/1
A big year lies ahead for Tottenham Hotspur and Jose Mourinho. After a poor 2019-20 season, the Spurs faithful will be looking for a lot more from their talented team. Last season, Tottenham were knocked out of this competition in the third round by EFL League Two outfit Colchester.
Mourinho loves this competition, winning it three times while at Chelsea and once as Man Utd boss. Under the Portuguese, Tottenham have every chance of winning the League Cup this season. The bookies have Spurs priced at the tempting odds of 11/1 and if Mourinho gets a decent start to the season that could rapidly look like cracking value.
Who Has an Outside Chance?
Aston Villa – who were promoted from the EFL Championship at the end of the 2018-19 season – went all the way to the final last year, narrowly losing out to Man City at Wembley. Apart from England’s elite, there are several clubs who will fancy their chances of going all the way this year. Who are the EFL Cup dark horses?
Wolverhampton Wanderers – 16/1
Wolverhampton Wanderers keep on improving under Nuno Espirito Santo. Wolves knocked on the door of the top four last term, eventually missing out by seven points. Wanderers also missed out on Europe after Arsenal’s FA Cup win.
With no European football at Molineux this season, Wolves could be a force to be reckoned with in the cup competitions. They are certainly outsiders, with the bookies pricing Nuno’s boys at 16/1, but Wolves could be one to watch out for this term with their relatively limited number of games giving them a real edge over the major contenders.
Everton – 25/1
The Toffees have struggled for the last few seasons but with Carlo Ancelotti at the helm, their fans are cautiously optimistic despite a poor end to the protracted 2019-20 campaign. They have been quiet in the transfer market but we expect that to change and this may be a trophy they target, especially as they have never won the League Cup.
25/1 seems a reasonable price all in all and like Wolves and our other dark horses they will benefit enormously from not having European fixtures to contend with. Ancelotti is a serial winner and if he can deliver silverware to Goodison he will seal his place in the club’s history.
Sheffield United – 28/1
Sheffield United were the surprise package in the Premier League last season. Having been promoted from the Championship, the Blades shocked everyone by finishing in ninth place, ahead of the likes of Southampton, Everton and Newcastle United.
Maintaining their competitiveness in the Premier League will be the main aim for Chris Wilder’s boys, but the Sheffield club could have a go at the cup competitions this season. United have never won the EFL Cup, but 28/1 for them to lift the trophy in 2021 is a very attractive price.
Leeds United – 33/1
After years and years of trying, Leeds United are finally back in the Premier League. Marcelo Bielsa worked his magic at Elland Road last season, guiding Leeds to first place in the Championship with a staggering 93 points.
Back in their heyday, United were a successful cup team. Leeds have won this particular cup just once, though, as Don Revie’s men beat Arsenal in the 1968 League Cup final at the old Wembley. Bielsa’s Leeds are available at 33/1 to win this season’s EFL Cup and it isn’t beyond the top flight new boys.
League Cup, EFL Cup, Carabao Cup… it’s Hard to Keep up!
The League Cup has changed its name more times than Cheryl Cole (or whatever she’s called now!) but it is the secondary domestic cup competition in English men’s football. It can’t match the FA Cup for history, glamour, prestige or romance but, as the first piece of real silverware up for grabs each season, it retains a certain unique appeal.
As of the 2018-19 season the League Cup is officially called the EFL Cup, or, for sponsorship purposes, the Carabao Cup. Throughout this article, we’ll use those terms interchangeably and, unless stated, facts and figures are correct as of the 2018-19 competition.
Perhaps the one area the League Cup is a match for the FA Cup is when it comes to betting. Especially as the competition wears on, the range of betting options is astounding, whilst an outright bet on the League Cup can give you a nice early payout in February. In this feature we take a closer look at the competition and as well as betting strategies we’ve also got some great trivia, along with a little bit of history and some information about the structure and format of how the cup plays out.
League Cup Trivia
We’re going to start with some light-hearted facts and stats about the EFL Cup just to get us warmed up. Maybe our top 12 facts will help you impress your friends, bore your partner, or maybe, just maybe, win the local pub quiz.
- Rush and Heskey – Ian Rush and Emile Heskey have both played in a record six League Cup finals
- 32 – a 2016 League Cup penalty shootout between Derby and Carlisle saw a record 32 penalties!
- Runners-up – Arsenal have made eight finals (only Liverpool and Manchester United have made more) but have lost six of those
- Three-play – in the glorious days of replays, the 1977 League Cup final was played at Wembley (0-0) before a replay and extra time at Hillsborough and then, finally, a decisive game at Old Trafford. Even the third game needed extra time, Villa eventually winning 3-2
- Alan Hardaker – since 1990 the best player in the final has been awarded the Alan Hardaker Trophy, named in honour of a Football League administrator and wartime Royal Navy officer who hailed from Hull
- Youth – the EFL Cup is often used as a chance to give youngsters a game and Harvey Elliott is the youngest of the competition’s young, having turned out for Fulham at the age of 15 years and 174 days in 2018
- 49 – Ian Rush and Geoff Hurst are tied on 49 League Cup goals as the top competition scorers
- What has Two Legs and One Cup? – the League Cup final was played over two legs for the first six seasons, the sides playing home and away. In 1967 the final was moved to Wembley
- Drink! – the EFL Cup has had eight sponsors, with five of them being drinks companies, including the Milk Marketing Board when it was called the Milk Cup!
- 100,000 – the biggest official attendance for a League Cup final was recorded in 1971, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1982 and 1985. The smallest came in 1962 as just 11,123 watched Rochdale host Norwich
EFL Cup Betting Strategy
As already said, there are lots and lots of options for when it comes to betting on the League Cup. From early ante post bets on who will win or make the final to specials such as who will be the top scorer or at what stage a side will get knocked out, you are spoiled for choice. Throw in hundreds of markets on each individual match and you really do have lots and lots to go at.
The League Cup features all 92 sides in the Premier League and English Football League (EFL) and with various byes that creates a cup of 83 matches. With games played from mid-August through to late February, that’s a lot of games to potentially win on and a lot of time to get involved with betting on the League Cup.
But, where should you start? We have betting tips and free bets elsewhere on the site but here we have got more of a strategic guide on how to bet on the League Cup. Ultimately the League Cup is about football and so checking out our football betting strategy guide is a great place to start for some general information. However, we’ve also got a little bit of info that relates more specifically to this event.
Make Hay in the First Two Rounds
We’ve offered up the same tip, more or less, for every cup and competition and that is to try and profit from the games where fewer punters are interested. If a lot of people are betting on an event then it is imperative that the bookie gets their odds right. An error on the League Cup final could cost them a lot of money and so they spend a lot of time and resources making sure their odds are as tight as possible.
In contrast, for the earlier rounds, where two League Two minnows may be going head to head, there is far less interest from most punters. As such the bookies have less incentive to invest the staff hours needed to consider all information and all angles. For the canny football bettor or the fan of one of the smaller sides armed with a little local knowledge, this can mean getting a value bet is a real possibility.
Factors to Consider When Betting on the League Cup
In a Champions League or Premier League game you can usually safely assume that both teams will be going all out to win the match at all costs. However, in the League Cup, this is not always the case and so this brings into play a number of factors. When deciding on who will win a given game, or even to a lesser extent who might go all the way and lift the trophy, be sure to consider the following.
All professional English football sides have hugely congested fixture lists and, sadly, the League Cup is often not a priority, especially for the sides at the top of the footballing tree. Premier League clubs, in particular, are likely to rest players and give fringe squad members and youngsters some game time. It’s especially worth looking out for if a side has a big game either side of the EFL Cup fixture, or whether they are involved in a battle at either end of the table (in any division) as that is likely to be the focus of their attention and efforts.
In terms of team news, local news sources are a good option but increasingly many clubs announce their teams on Twitter. If you keep a very close eye on official Twitter feeds you may just be able to grab some surprise team news ahead of the bookies and the market.
Rotated Might Not Mean Weaker
Trying to assess the true odds and probabilities is a complex matter in sports betting, especially in a team sport like football. There are 11 players on each side and whilst you might think a changed team is a weaker one, the reality may be different.
Incoming players may well have a point to prove and could actually strengthen the side. Whilst a first team star, if picked, may not fancy a midweek away day against lower league opposition, a fringe player or young tyro may just think this is the perfect chance for them to impress the manager.
Another factor to consider is the strength in depth the top teams have nowadays. Sides like Manchester City can make a number of changes and still field a team of international footballers with a number of £30m+ players. This factor can be especially pertinent when both sides are likely to make changes, with the bigger, better side less likely to feel the impact of rotation.
League Cup Pedigree
For a variety of reasons some teams just seem to do better in the League Cup than others. More than likely this may have begun as simply coincidence and statistical variance. However, over the years, past performances can develop either confidence or trepidation and so what may have begun as meaningless “noise”, now becomes a “signal” worth thinking about.
Teams can enjoy periodic success in the EFL Cup and begin to believe it is a competition they can succeed in. On the other hand, a Premier League side who has endured a run of losses to lower league clubs may approach it with a sense of trepidation.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s Leicester City punched well above their weight in the League Cup, winning it twice and losing another final. Chelsea have also enjoyed a run of success, whilst it might now be worth noting that Man City have won three of five EFL Cups since 2014.
At the other end of the spectrum, Everton have never won the competition, surprising for a club that have won so many league and FA Cup trophies. They have also suffered a number of upsets in the League Cup in recent years, as have Man United. The Red Devils may feel this is not a cup for them after being eliminated by Derby in 2018 and Bristol City the year before that. Looking further back they were knocked out by lowly York City in 1995, Southend in 2006, MK Dons in 2014 and Boro in 2015.
History and Background
Compared to many major football competitions the League Cup is a mere baby. The FA Cup was founded all the way back in the 1871-72 season; in contrast the first League Cup was played as recently as 1961.
It began shortly after the advent of European football in the 1950s and was both a response to the growing popularity of that and also against the power of the FA. It was felt a secondary competition could be used by clubs suffering early elimination from the FA Cup and the idea was first mooted by Stanley Rous.
Rous was sixth President of FIFA and had previously been the secretary of the FA. Ultimately it was Football League Secretary Alan Hardaker (after whom the Alan Hardaker award is named) who got the competition off the ground.
Attendances were dwindling and it was felt a move to have fewer league fixtures would help this. However, in order to offset the loss of revenue, a second cup competition seemed a good idea. It also allowed the Football League to limit the power of the FA.
Let There be Light
Aside from the various power struggles within the game, the most important factor in the establishment of the League Cup was the advent of floodlights. During the late 1950s many sides built lights onto their stadia and this facilitated games taking place during midweek in the evenings. The League Cup actually replaced the Southern Professional Floodlit Cup and was initially quite specifically a midweek, floodlit competition.
Initially there was opposition to the new cup from the major clubs. As said, this was a time when European club football was beginning to really expand and the richest clubs felt that more competition between the biggest clubs on the continent would be more lucrative.
Nonetheless, the League Cup was held in the 1960-61 season, after 16 clubs opposed it and 31 voted for it to go ahead. Villa were the first winners and have since won the League Cup a further four times. The most successful clubs in the history of the competition are:
- Liverpool – the Reds have eight wins from 12 finals
- Man United – United have won five times and been runners-up four times
- Aston Villa – five wins from eight finals
- Chelsea – five wins, twice runners-up
- Man City – five wins, runners-up on one occasion
As said, the League Cup is a low priority for many clubs but it may surprise some that this is not a modern scourge we can put down to the riches on offer elsewhere. In fact, from its early years, clubs have not wanted to compete in the League Cup.
Initially a number of top sides didn’t take part, but when UEFA agreed to grant the winners of the League Cup a UEFA Cup spot that soon changed. In 1968 Man United were the only side to refuse their invitation to play until Everton refused to compete in 1970-71 (in order to try and win the European Cup that year).
Following Everton’s actions it was made compulsory for all Football League teams to enter the EFL Cup. Whilst it remains very much the third most prized competition in English football, for many fans the League Cup is their best chance of seeing their club lift silverware.
In addition, the EFL Cup offers some of these lesser teams a chance to play in Europe. Only the EFL Cup in England and the French equivalent offer European places for a league’s secondary cup winners. This double chance at glory gives the League Cup a magic of its own and no winner in February ever claims the competition is an irrelevance.
What is the League Cup and How Does it Work?
If you’ve got this far and you still don’t know what the EFL Cup is then we admire your commitment to the cause. And your reward is a very simple answer: the English Football League Cup is a cup solely for the 20 Premier League sides and 72 teams of the EFL.
The format has changed numerous times over the years depending on the number of teams entering. The biggest change over the years has been the removal of two-legged ties, which now exist only for the semi-finals. More recently there have been changes to how drawn games are contested and other minor tweaks to various processes.
The 2018-19 EFL Cup saw teams enter as below, with ties decided by a random, unseeded draw, although for rounds 1 and 2 teams were divided into North and South groups for logistical purposes.
- First Round – 70 teams from Leagues 1 and 2 and the Championship
- Second Round – 35 winners from R1 are joined by 13 Premier League teams not playing in Europe and the two Championship sides who had finished 18th and 19th in the Premier League the preceding season
- Third Round – 25 winners joined by seven Premier League sides involved in the Champions or Europa League
- Fourth Round – no new sides enter, with just the 16 winners from the third round
- Fifth Round – as above, with the eight winners meeting in the quarters
- Semi Finals – the four victors from R5 are drawn and play home and away for a place at Wembley
- Final – aggregate winners (after extra time in the second leg if needed, then the away goals rule, then penalties) compete at Wembley for the EFL Cup
What’s it Called Again?
As previously said, we’ve used the various current names of the competition interchangeably. However, the competition has gone by many a name over the years and here they all are. Now, if someone can provide us with a timeline for Cheryl Cole we’d be most appreciative.
- Football League Cup – 1961-1981, no sponsor
- Milk Cup – 1982-1986, sponsored by the Milk Marketing Board
- Littlewoods Challenge Cup – 1987-1990
- Rumbelows Cup – 1991-1992
- Coca-Cola Cup – 1993-1998
- Worthington Cup – 1999-2003
- Carling Cup – 2004-2012
- Capital One Cup – 2013-2016
- EFL Cup – 2017, no sponsor
- Carabao Cup – 2018 onwards