Will the Carling Cup have a winner from outside the top flight?
It has been 40 years since a side from outside the top flight of English football has won the League Cup, when Swindon beat Arsenal 3-1 way back in 1969. However the lose of Liverpool and Chelsea last night has opened the way for the clubs from the Championship to claim some major silverware.
Lower league clubs have been in the final in recent history with Birmingham the last one, pushing Liverpool all the way only to lose on penalties. The year before that Tranmere narrowly lost to Leicester. So this year could be the year that someone goes that step further and perhaps shows that despite being less prestigious than the FA Cup this competition can provide just as big an upset.
Looking through the sides left in the draw for the quarter finals the obvious favourites in the football betting will be Arsenal, Manchester United and current holders Tottenham. However if the draw throws two of those three together then we could easily see the likes of Burnley, Watford or Derby reach the semi-finals at least.
Burnley will certainly fancy their chances against anyone after their victory at Chelsea and with the Clarets flying high in the league they are the ones to avoid for the Premier League sides if they don’t want to become their next cup victims.
Despite my head telling me that the winners will come from either Spurs, Arsenal or Man Utd my heart is praying for it to be one of the Championship sides left in the competition. Whilst my head is telling me that one of those three sides will be lifting the trophy at Wembley in February it is far from impossible that we won’t be seeing Paul Connolly or Jay DeMerit taking that long walk up the steps to collect the three handled trophy.
With the big clubs failing to take this competition seriously due to European or relegation concerns then this, as we head for the quarter finals, is a major opportunity to create a piece of history.
Derby and Watford both have recent Premier League experience, albeit unsuccessful, and so will know what to expect if they draw a Premier League side. As for Burnley they have already knocked out Fulham and now Chelsea so whatever the football odds say I believe there is a chance, even if it is a small, for a Championship side to win the tournament.
Chances are that one will reach the semi-finals, Wycombe being the last side to do it although it was a 100-1 shot that they would make all the way, whilst Watford narrowly missed out in 2005 to Liverpool.
So lets hope the upsets continue for the neutral, obviously if your side is still left in the competition and isn’t in the Championship you won’t be hoping for the same thing. Everyone else will be hoping for a repeat of this years FA Cup, albeit a better game to watch than that dull affair!