Football Features

The main League Cup contenders ranked as ‘Big Six’ clubs enter the competition

By Ben Green

League Cup favourites: Ranking odds for the main contenders

Published: 10:46, 22 September 2020

The League Cup may not carry the allure of a European night or boast the significance of Premier League football, but the domestic competition remains a cornerstone of the English game — and it’s already kicked off for another season.

The third round gets underway this week with all of the ‘Big Six’ now stepping into the equation, including current holders of the title Manchester City, who take on Bournemouth, and the most successful club in the competition’s history, Liverpool, who will pit their wits against Lincoln City.

With the congested schedule set to play a key part and plenty of upsets already materialising, the 2020/21 League Cup promises to be another drama-soaked occasion. But who are the favourites to take the crown this season? We’ve ranked the main contenders and assessed their SBK* odds as the long road to Wembley begins.

*Odds correct as of 10:30 on 22/09/2020. You have to be 18+ and GambleAware to sign up to SBK.

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10. Newcastle

2019/20 finish: Second round

SBK League Cup odds: 3.33%

Third round opponents: Morecambe (a)

Steve Bruce’s men were knocked out of the second round on penalties by eventual semi-finalists Leicester last season, but have already navigated their way through to the third round after a tame 1-0 win over Blackburn. The Magpies face Morecambe away next before tackling either Newport or Watford. That they could potentially make it to the quarter-finals without facing Premier League opposition makes them one of the favourites for this season.

9. Brighton

Graham Potter | Brighton | Premier League

2019/20 finish: Third round

SBK League Cup odds: 3.33%

Third round opponents: Preston (a)

Knocked out by Aston Villa at this stage of the competition last season, Brighton now take on Championship opposition in Preston, with a chance to face either Luton or Manchester United in the fourth round. The Seagulls looked good value for their 4-0 rout over Portsmouth in a South Coast clash during the previous round and have started this season like a house on fire under Graham Potter. 

Despite the 3-1 defeat to Chelsea in their opening game of the season, Brighton looked excellent and the better side at stages. Against Newcastle they made light work of their opposition in a 3-0 win, and could be a dark horse in this year’s League Cup, with the Seagulls playing some scintillating football at present.

8. Leicester City

2019/20 finish: Semi-finals

SBK League Cup odds: 4.55%

Third round opponents: Arsenal (h)

Like Brighton, Leicester were knocked out by Villa last season, though Brendan Rodgers’ men did reach the semi-finals, and he will be hoping to go one better this time round. However, a meeting with Arsenal awaits them at the King Power and then either Lincoln or Liverpool in the next round so, not the most favourable of runs for the Foxes. That said, Leicester have proven they can beat anyone on their day and could very well catch the heavyweights napping in this competition.

Leicester vs Arsenal preview

Arguably the match of the round, Leicester vs Arsenal has all the ingredients for a mouthwatering showdown between two giants of the English game. Mikel Arteta has already vindicated his appointment by lifting the FA Cup and will be keen to add further silverware to his budding managerial CV. Likewise Brendan Rodgers has transformed his club, turning Leicester into a ferocious force and a club that has very much broken the glass ceiling in recent times.

With so much talent both in the dugout and on the pitch, this could boil down to which forward turns up: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Jamie Vardy? Changes are expected to be made, as both managers tussle with the extra strain of a congested fixture schedule, but there should be plenty of firepower on display in the East Midlands, even if this competition only offers a route into the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League.

Leicester vs Arsenal: Odds via SBK

Leicester: 34.25%
Draw: 28.99%
Arsenal: 38.46%

7. Arsenal

2019/20 finish: Fourth round

SBK League Cup odds: 6.67%

Third round opponents: Leicester (a)

If Arsenal are to get to the quarter finals, then they could potentially face Leicester and then Liverpool away. It doesn’t get much more ominous than that. The Gunners were eliminated by Liverpool in the League Cup last season after a 5-5 thriller and will want to avoid another meeting in the fourth round. First, Arteta must mastermind a masterclass at the King Power, and that is well within the realms of possibility given the form Arsenal have showcased under the Spanish coach.

6. Everton

2019/20 finish: Quarter-finals

SBK League Cup odds: 8.70%

Third round opponents: Fleetwood (a)

Everton, like Spurs, are a club that have largely been changing for most of the Premier League’s existence, with silverware eluding the Goodison Park trophy cabinet since 1995. A quarter-final finish last season was a decent return but Carlo Ancelotti, a titan of the dugout, will want to end the Toffees’ trophy draught and etch his name into Merseyside folklore. An away trip to Fleetwood looks favourable on paper, as does the prospect of either West Ham or Hull in the next round, and well, the way James Rodriguez, Allan et al are performing, they surely go into this competition as one of the favourites.

5. Tottenham

2019/20 finish: Third round

SBK League Cup odds: 9.09%

Third round opponents: Leyton Orient (a)

It was embarrassment last season as Spurs crashed out of the competition, losing on penalties in the third round to League Two club Colchester United. The Lilywhites now face League Two Leyton Orient in an all-London affair and will be desperate to avoid any potential memes by coming up short against fourth-tier opposition two years running, though the game is currently in doubt. With serial cup-winner Jose Mourinho at the helm, Spurs should be more than prepared to progress, where either Chelsea or Barnsley lie in wait. Could this be the year Spurs clinch silverware?

4. Man Utd

2019/20 finish: Semi-finals

SBK League Cup odds: 10.42%

Third round opponents: Luton (a)

Man Utd reached three semi-finals last season and lost them all. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be desperate to banish that ghost and get his beloved club back to winning ways. His mentor Sir Alex Ferguson laid the foundations and set the standard for Man Utd, as a club obsessed with silverware. The Norwegian must now channel his inner Fergie and go all the way. He certainly has a squad capable of reaching a final, and even going on to lift a trophy.

3. Chelsea

2019/20 finish: Fourth round

SBK League Cup odds: 10.64%

Third round opponents: Barnsley (h)

When you spend over £200m on new recruits your odds of winning a competition naturally increase. Chelsea enter the League Cup as one of the favourites, and why wouldn’t they? Frank Lampard boasts a frontline of Kai Havertz, Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech (at least when they’re all fit). He will now want to translate his playing form to the dugout, by lifting something tangible as boss of Chelsea. Having spent heavily, pressure will be on Lampard to deliver. And in football, time is precious.

2. Liverpool

2019/20 finish: Quarter-finals

SBK League Cup odds: 11.11%

Third round opponents: Lincoln (a)

The eight-time winners of this competition went out with a whimper last season as Jurgen Klopp prioritised the Club World Cup to tackle his congested winter schedule. That meant U-23s boss Neil Critchley took charge of the 5-0 loss to Aston Villa with the Reds putting out their youngest-ever starting line-up. Klopp is unlikely to deploy such a cherubic XI this time round but expect wholesale changes. That said, the German still has a wealth of talent at his disposal and a lot of elite-level back-up quality, including new signings Diogo Jota and Kostas Tsimikas, as well as wonderkids Curtis Jones and Neco Williams.

1. Man City

2019/20 finish: Winners

SBK League Cup odds: 22.73%

Third round opponents: Bournemouth (h)

Pep Guardiola has won this competition the past three seasons and there is no reason why he can’t pull off a fourth-straight triumph. The Catalonian just knows how to win trophies. Domestically he has been an unmitigated success and should have no problem reaching the quarter-finals this term, with either Millwall or Burnley following a home tie against Bournemouth. From there, they can wreak devastation and cause yet more noise in the latter stages.

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