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The English Football League Cup, or the League Cup, has been an annual competition in the English Football League since the 1960-61 season.
The League Cup was introduced as a response to dwindling crowds and the growth in popularity of European football. It took advantage of the recent introduction of floodlights to play fixtures on mid-week evenings during the winter with a final taking place at Wembley Stadium in late February or early March.
The EFL Cup is open to all 92 teams playing in the top 4 levels of the English Football League. It is divided into 7 rounds, all of which are played as single-leg games, apart from the semi-final which is played over two-legs, home and away. Since 1996-97 teams taking part in European Competition have received an automatic bye to the third round, and any remaining Premier League teams enter at the second round.
The EFL is not considered as prestigious a cup as the FA Cup, but winners are still awarded a place in the UEFA Europa League. Should the cup winner have already qualified through other means at the end of the season then this place transfers to the highest placed Premier League team that has not qualified.
Prize money for the EFL Cup is low in comparison to other prestigious tournaments. Prize money for the final winner is £100,000, and the runner-up £50,000.
As the EFL is considered lower status than the FA cup, many clubs use it as an opportunity to offer big game experience to less experienced players. This means that the opportunity for surprise performances by under-dog teams is great. Notable upsets include Manchester United being knocked out in 06-07 and 07-08 by Southend City and Coventry City respectively. In the Southend game the team they fielded included 10 International players. In the 2014-15 season they were knocked out in the second round, losing 4-0 to third tier team MK Dons. Grimsby Town were responsible for 2 giant killings, knocking out current cup holders Liverpool in 2001-02 and Tottenham Hotspur in 2005.
The lowest ranked team to reach a League Cup Final was League Two team Bradford City in 2012-13. They knocked out Premier League Teams Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa on their way to the final.
Historically Liverpool are the best performing club in the EFL reaching the final 12 times and winning 8, they are followed by Aston Villa with 8 final appearances and 5 wins, then Chelsea with 6 finals and 4 wins.
Betting on the EFL can be challenging as its difficult to anticipate whether a club will be fielding their strongest side. Nevertheless, the English Football League Cup is a popular market among gamblers and if you know lower division football well this can offer an advantage. In recent years the winner of the EFL Cup has mostly been a large Premier League side, but upsets do happen and there is money to be made betting on an outsider to progress.
Popular bets at match level include individual match winner, half-time/full-time score, anytime goalscorer and total goals over/under.
|9th January 2017||Semi Finals – First Leg|
|23rd January 2017||Semi Finals – Second Leg|
|26th February 2017||Final|