The League Cup Final Preview
Where: Wembley Stadium, London
When: Sunday 24th February at 4:30 pm
What is the EFL Cup?
The EFL Cup is an English cup competition featuring clubs from the top four tiers of the domestic football pyramid. It’s currently title sponsor is Carabao, who replacing Capital One.
The competition was founded by the English Football League as a response to the Football Association’s control over the English game, as well as the increasing popularity of European football.
It has seven rounds, all of which are one-legged affairs, with the exception of the semi-finals. The final is the only game to be held on a weekend.
That means it can help teams to get into the habit of winning silverware. It also provides the winner with a place in the Europa League.
The last five editions have been won by Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United. However, Swansea City and Birmingham City showed that shocks are possible in 2011 and 2013 respectively.
Who won the EFL Cup in 2018?
Manchester City won the Carabao Cup in 2017-18, beating Arsenal 3-0 in the final with goals from Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Vincent Kompany.
It was the first trophy the Cityzens won under Pep Guardiola. It was also the third time Arsenal lost in the final under Arsene Wenger, following defeats to Chelsea and Birmingham in 2007 and 2011.
Who are the favourites for this year?
The holders are the clear 8/13 favourites in this year’s final, having thrashed Chelsea 6-0 when the sides last met.
City have won three of the last five EFL Cup Finals, though they have never managed to defend the trophy before.
Chelsea are back at 17/4, following their recent dismal display at the Etihad Stadium. That defeat has ramped up the pressure on Maurizio Sarri.
Manchester City Odds: 8/13
City have only conceded one goal en route to the final, while firing in 16 themselves. It’s mainly been plain sailing to get to this stage, though Leicester City did take them to a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-finals.
The Manchester side also beat Oxford United, Fulham, and racked up a huge 10-0 aggregate win over League One side Burton Albion in the semi-finals.
Gabriel Jesus has played second fiddle to Sergio Aguero in the league this term. But he’s made the most of his opportunities in the Carabao Cup. The Brazil international is the competition’s top scorer with five goals, two more than any other player.
City will name a strong side at Wembley, though Pep Guardiola could rest a few faces with crucial games either side of the final. They travel to Schalke for the first-leg of their Champions League last-16 tie four days before the game. And they host West Ham United in league action three days afterwards.
Jesus is expected to get another start, while the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Nicolas Otamendi could also be called upon.
Chelsea Odds: 17/4
Chelsea will be hoping a win in the Carabao Cup Final can kick-start their season after being dragged into a scrap for fourth place.
Sarri’s side beat Liverpool, Derby County, and Bournemouth to reach the semi-finals, where they faced rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs won the first-leg 1-0, before the Blues triumphed on penalties after a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.
Eden Hazard scored a crucial goal in that second-leg against Spurs, his third of the competition this term. If Chelsea are to get anything at Wembley, they’ll need a big performance from their star man.
Gonzalo Higuain is also likely to start in attack. He’s been brought in to add a cutting edge that’s been missing for much of this term.
The right-flank is up for grabs, with Willian, Pedro and Callum Hudson-Odoi all fighting for a starting berth. Hudson-Odoi got the nod in the semi-final second leg, but Sarri will probably opt for more experience in such a big game.
For the latest odds on the Carabao Cup final, visit our dedicated page!