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The Carling Cup is different, that’s why we love it
In September, Mitch Phillips argued here that the League Cup should be shuffled off into retirement. Who could argue for prolonging the life of this tired, unwanted “third competition”? Well, actually, after this week’s action, I would.
Arsenal and Tottenham, who together served up such a thrilling 4-4 draw when they met in the league at the end of October, were at it again separately this week, playing the same direct, fearless, attacking football despite featuring much changed line-ups.
The two ties they were involved in provided nine goals and four came from English strikers. That’s the same number as English forwards scored in all last weekend’s Premier League fixtures, and two more than the weekend before.
Add this to the encouraging performances from British youngsters like Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Lennon and Michael Dawson, and at least Fabio Capello and John Toshack can raise a pint (of Carling) to the League Cup.
The very fact that top teams field reserves and youngsters sees the League Cup get a lot of stick but suppose for a minute everyone put out their best sides and the top four all made it through to the quarter-finals: would that make it a better competition? Don’t we see enough of these games in the Premier League and FA Cup?
This week, the League Cup brought us British players excelling at top clubs, bags of goals and a big upset against the Premier League leaders at Stamford Bridge. Who could ask for more?
I agree the League Cup isn’t what is used to be. It has changed, it is different, and that’s why we should all love it.
PHOTO: Arsenal’s Jack Wilshire challenges Wigan Athletic’s Maynor Figueroa during their Carling Cup match at the Emirates Stadium in London, Nov 11, 2008. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor