These days in England, the Premier League and the Champions League for the four clubs competing in it are really where it’s at. No-one is allowed to say it officially – but all other competitions rank as an “also ran” events.
The Capital One Cup has already seen some of the big guns fielding second string sides. Manchester United crashed out to the MK Dons compounding new boss Louis van Gaal’s awful start to the season – or so it seemed. In actual fact, there was relatively little hue and cry at Old Trafford following the defeat and we all know why this is – though it remains tacit.
Arsenal have used the League Cup to good effect over the years to blood youngsters and give their second-stringers a chance to impress. But for the main part, the big clubs are generally happy to see the back of the competition in the early stages – unless they have decided it’s one they want to win, then the whole approach is different.
The same goes for the Europa League. This is usually a bit of a sideshow if we’re being honest and it does not generate much interest unless your club happens to be taking a serious run at it. Can you name last year’s winner, for example, or the one before that? Most football fans struggle here.
Then there’s the oldest proper trophy in football anywhere in the world – the once much-venerated FA Cup.
Now the FA Cup is very different from the rest in that it is one most clubs would dearly love to win and is counted by the fans as a genuine major trophy. The trouble is – no matter what we all might say – it still isn't quite as important as it was.
Everything to nothing
For those of us who grew up watching football in the 1970s, the FA Cup was pretty much everything. Most fans being asked to choose between the league title and an FA Cup win would then have been hard pressed to decide which was preferable.
Ask any fan today from the top six clubs in England in with a realistic chance of actually finishing on the top of the pile in the Premier League whether they’d rather have an FA Cup in the bag, or a Premier League title – and we all know which way they would go.
So when Arsenal won last season’s FA Cup, landing their first major trophy for quite a few years into the bargain, the Gunners’ fans were placated. But they weren't half as happy as they would have been 30 or 40 years earlier with the same trophy.
This begs the question as to how seriously the big six really take the venerable old trophy these days. This may particularly be the case for the four clubs in with a Champions League shout, namely Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.
Big club domination
But at the same time, if we look down the list of winners over the past decade, it’s quick to see just how the big names have dominated the FA Cup.
During that time, Chelsea have managed to have their name etched on the trophy four times, whilst Arsenal have managed two wins, and Liverpool and Man City have won one each.
Meanwhile, the country’s biggest club Manchester United were beaten finalists twice.
In other words, it seems as if the big clubs still realize that their fans respect the FA Cup and though it certainly ranks third in importance behind the Premier League title and the Champions League, it really does still count.
So whilst the League Cup may throw up some bizarre odds, the FA Cup is generally expected to go more to form.
That’s why, for example, the major bookies like 32Red, Bet365 and others have Manchester City, Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs installed as favorites, mirroring their league title odds. And with www.32red.com/mobile, you should be able to pocket £32 free of charge for each £10 you put in if you’re a new customer.
So if it’s crazily unpredictable odds you’re after, the Capital One Cup is the one to go for. As for the FA Cup – even recent history still tell s us that the biggest clubs in England still take this competition very seriously indeed – no matter what other commitments they may have. The old trophy ranks a solid third behind the league and Champions League – but it’s still one they all want to win.
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