With the Third Round of the Carling Cup welcoming the big guns into the competition, with only Liverpool of the top five in the betting involved in the second round, and the first few games of the League season past, betting for the cup has taken shape.
Carling Cup 11/12 betting preview
The top six in the betting will not surprise anyone. Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham will be easily the most popular pick for the competition, like they will be for the FA Cup, but there are differences between the two. Consider both the importance of the competition, the timing of fixtures (most importantly the semi-finals and final) and other involvements. Also, four Premiership teams have already been knocked out; new boys Norwich, QPR and Swansea, as well as Sunderland.
Carling Cup odds
Manchester City are favourites at this moment in time after a blistering start to the campaign. Although they are not favourites for any other competition they are in, the money has probably gone onto City because of their squad. With the amount of high quality players they have who struggle to make their first eleven, with over £80m of talent on their bench against Tottenham Hotspurs this season, it is clear there is enough in reserve to challenge on four fronts. They also have a cup win under their belts as a Mancini side, winning last year’s FA Cup. Much could depend on their progress in the League and Champions League, and this will definitely be at the bottom of their priority list. The motivation of the players Roberto Mancini will use in this competition can also be questioned, big name players stuck filling in midweek in the less respected Carling Cup are not going to be as hungry as some of their competitors. At a best price of 6.5 at William Hill the value is early, as they will be hard to stop if they sense a trophy, but are not experienced in challenging for four competitions, and do not have the squad harmony of their main competitors to keep motivation at a high.
The second favourites are Chelsea (7.00 with Victor Chandler, Blue Square, 888 Sport). Unlike last year, the numbers coming into Stamford Bridge outweigh those leaving, whilst young talent has been shown to be strong. New manager Andre Villas-Boas will be under pressure to win silverware too and an early trophy could keep Chairman and Owner Roman Abramovich happy if their other quests for glory fail. The reasons to be cheerful for Chelsea backers come in the form of the players in reserve. Daniel Sturridge seems set to stay at the club instead of embarking on another loan spell, whilst new signings Romelu Lukaku and Oriel Romeu could see this as a tournament to find their feet in English football, and both have considerable ability and potential. Add to those Josh Mceachren, Ryan Bertrand, Gael Kakuta and Patrick Van Aanholt, and it is easy to see the young basis of a strong second team for Chelsea, which will be flittered with experienced stars and first team players too. Chelsea are one to watch, as they have the ability to be peerless on the pitch and the potential to implode from within.
Manchester United are third favourites, and having won two years in a row before last season it is easy to see why they will be backed. A strong squad with depth and talented youngsters always coming through, plus the experience of being in all the competitions at the business end means Manchester United are the competition’s formidable side. They have started the season superbly, no stronger a performance than an 8-2 drubbing of Arsenal will be seen all season. And their squad depth is even better than their Manchester rivals at City, the players want to play for the club and the manager, something that can be questioned at the blue half of Manchester. They seem to have two or three players for every position, all more than capable Premiership performers, and you cannot argue with Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad management. Berbatov, Owen, Carrick, Giggs, Evans, Jones and many others are quality names that are not guaranteed first team football, and could be used in the Carling Cup. The 8.00 on offer (Coral) could be the value of the season on Fergie’s men marching to Wembley and lifting the trophy come February.
After Arsenal’s major collapse on and off the field as the season has started, Liverpool have found preference from the punters in many areas. A best priced 8.50 with Bet Fred and Paddy Power, the only team of the market leaders that does not have European football to contend with could be the best way to bet. Liverpool look a little short of Premiership glory this season, and whilst their priority will be a top four spot, Kenny Dalglish is definitely a man who respects the importance of a good cup run and the impact of a trophy. A squad bolstered by numerous quality buys this summer, they appear to have the depth to handle a Carling Cup campaign alongside other ambitions. They are also playing some fantastic football right now, and whilst others worry about long trips to European lands, Liverpool may take this competition a bit more seriously, and have the fitness to storm to Wembley. The one area they definitely have numbers is midfield, and the mix of youth and experience there, and in other areas, could see hungry players coming in and out of the side desperate to leave a mark. It is also coming to a period where Gerrard and Carragher, Liverpool heroes already, must be desperate to get some extra silverware in the locker as their careers come towards an end. Victory at the new Wembley is something neither have achieved, and King Kenny would love to mark his first full season back in charge by bringing a trophy home to the rather full cabinet.
Manchester United – 8.00 Coral
Aston Villa – 21.00 Sky Bet