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The EFL Cup - otherwise known as the League Cup - has fallen out of favour in recent times, but a number of elite Premier League clubs are still fighting away for the chance to secure a trip to Wembley Stadium. While the competition may not have the prestige of the FA Cup, a number of decent sides will be involved in the quarterfinals as the tournament begins to take shape.
However, it might be more prudent to back one of the “lesser” sides in the competition – especially as there is still plenty of value around. You might not get much for your money if you back Liverpool to win the tournament for a record ninth time, and a number of smaller sides may have a decent chance with a favourable draw. Here are a few potential champions...
Newcastle suffered relegation to the Championship last season but the Magpies are by far and away the strongest team in the second flight. In fact, they are probably better than a fair few Premier League clubs on current form.
As of November 28th, the Magpies are valued at 1200 to win the entire competition with 32Red mobile casino and Netbet. There will be plenty of punters who will be backing Rafa Benitez’s men to go all the way to Wembley. Newcastle fell short against Blackburn Rovers this weekend but they will be back at full strength for their trip to Premier League strugglers Hull City on Tuesday night.
Prior to that defeat, Newcastle had won nine league games in a row – the club’s best run in many years. With Benitez at the helm, anything is possible and the likes of Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic could have too much firepower for the Tigers if the visitors perform at their brilliant best. A few years ago, Bradford City beat the likes of Arsenal and Aston Villa on the way to Wembley before losing to Swansea City in the final and Newcastle may follow their example for inspiration this season.
If nothing else, one thing’s for sure: Newcastle have a genuine chance to win silverware for the first time in decades this year and supporters will be urging Benitez to take Tuesday night’s clash seriously. If anybody deserves a crack at major honours, it is Newcastle – and they will flock down to Wembley in their thousands if Rafa’s side can get the job done and successfully navigate a potentially difficult semi-final clash.
Southampton are in fine form and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Claude Puel’s side earn a shock victory against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in their quarter-final clash. The Saints held on for a narrow 1-0 win over Everton last weekend and a cup triumph would go a long way to winning over any Puel critics in his first full season at St Mary’s Stadium.
On their day, the Saints are capable of beating anybody and it would take a brave man to back against Puel’s side on current form. The former Monaco midfielder has adjusted quickly to life in the Premier League and a maiden League Cup title could be on the cards if Southampton play their cards right.
Winning at the Emirates Stadium is easier said than done but Southampton have the right mentality and system to end Arsenal’s impressive run. The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 19 games in all competitions; a run that stretches all the way back to the opening game of the season.
The Saints are well priced at 1000 considering their well-rounded squad and plenty of fans will be quietly confident of going all the way if they can get past Arsene Wenger’s side. If truth be told, the EFL Cup may be Southampton’s number one priority right now and Puel should do everything in his power to lead the Saints to glory.
Okay, so United aren’t an “outsider” at 900 with both 32Red and 188Bet but Jose Mourinho’s record in the League Cup deserves plenty of respect and English football punters should consider backing the Red Devils ahead of their quarter-final clash with West Ham United.
The four-time winners have failed to inspire confidence as of late but a cup run could spur United on as they look to save their season. Mourinho’s men are sixth in the Premier League table and the Portuguese has been sent to the stands twice in recent weeks; a sign that he might be struggling to cope with the pressure of managing at Old Trafford.
Unfortunately, United will be without instrumental midfielder Paul Pogba after the France star received his fifth caution of the season in their most recent league game; ironically also against West Ham. However, Red Devils fans were relieved to see Zlatan Ibrahimović back on the scoresheet this weekend after a barren run of form. The Sweden legend scored the equaliser on Sunday to earn United another home draw.
The Red Devils aren’t the dominant force that they once were but they should still be good enough to challenge for silverware in this competition. With the Old Trafford crowd behind them, United can get past West Ham on their way to yet another Wembley appearance.