The EFL Cup is the secondary cup competition in England. The 2021/22 edition began on July 31 and will conclude with the final at Wembley on February 27. Ninety-two teams entered the competition as per usual.
The EFL Cup also known as the Carabao Cup was launched in 1960 by Alan Hardaker, the Football League Secretary. “It must be obvious to all of you that the time has come to do something, and it is up to the Football League to give the lead,” he said of his hopes to revitalize English soccer. The EFL Cup has been held on an annual basis ever since.
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Unsurprisingly, the odds to win the EFL Cup 2022/23 are similar to those for the Premier League title. A side outside the top flight has not lifted this trophy since Sheffield Wednesday in 1991, so we can probably assume that a Premier League club will be the victors this time around too.
Manchester City have won four of the last five EFL Cups and are the favorites going into the 2022/23 campaign. Liverpool have pushed them close in the Premier League in recent years, and are the holders in this competition – the Reds are second in the betting.
Chelsea and Manchester United edge out Tottenham Hotspur as joint-third favorites, perhaps because Spurs have not won a trophy since 2008. Arsenal are a little further back but still comfortably ahead of the dark horses, a group which includes Newcastle, Leicester and West Ham.
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Liverpool were the EFL Cup 2021/22 winners. They beat Norwich City, Preston North End and Leicester City to set up a semi-final against Arsenal. The Reds won that two-legged tie 2-0 on aggregate, before beating Chelsea on penalties in the final.
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It depends who you ask: the EFL Cup is a major trophy to some clubs and not such a big deal to others. When Swansea City won the competition in 2013, it was arguably the greatest achievement in the club’s history. It was significant the previous year too, when Birmingham City lifted the trophy with a shock win against Arsenal in the final.To the Premier League’s elite, however, the EFL Cup is not as important as other competitions. The Premier League and Champions League are the two most sought-after trophies, followed by the FA Cup and then the EFL Cup.One advantage the EFL Cup has over the FA Cup is its scheduling. The competition is usually finished by February or March, which encourages big teams to take it seriously as it does not clash with the business end of the season.
Many other European countries, including Spain, Germany and Italy, only have one cup competition. As well as England, there are League Cups in Scotland, Portugal, Wales, the Republic of Ireland, Iceland, Northern Ireland and Israel.In other continents, Argentina, Japan, Uruguay and South Africa are among the countries with a EFL Cup.
Qualification for the EFL Cup is automatic. All 92 teams in the top four divisions of English soccer take part in the competition. The 48 sides in League One and League Two (the third and fourth tier of the pyramid) enter in the first round, together with 22 of the 24 clubs in the Championship.The two remaining Championship teams (those which finished 18th and 19th in the previous season’s Premier League) enter in the second round, along with the 13 Premier League clubs absent from European competition. The remaining seven top-flight outfits make their first appearance in the third round.
The EFL Cup is a straight knockout tournament featuring seven rounds of one-off matches. The only exception is the semi-finals, which take place over two legs. The first two rounds are regionalized, with participating clubs split into northern and southern sections.Unlike the FA Cup, there are no replays for tied games. Further to this, extra time was abolished for all rounds except the final in 2018/19. A tie after 90 minutes is followed immediately by a penalty shoot-out.
The winners of the EFL Cup are awarded a trophy, a set of medals, £100,000 ($138,000) in prize money and a place in the history books.They also qualify for the Europa Conference League, unless they go on to secure a place in European competition via their Premier League position. In that case, the Europa Conference League place is transferred to the highest-placed Premier League team that has not already qualified for continental competition.
Soccer fans based in the United States can watch the EFL Cup on ESPN. Kick-off times (Eastern) are usually at 2:45pm or 3pm on selected Tuesdays or Wednesdays.
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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