With the big guns of the Premier League ready to enter the fray in the Capital One Cup this evening, TV pundit Chris Kamara believes that the days of bigger sides taking the competition for granted are over.
Despite its many previous incarnations, one thing remained constant for a number of years; the mentality that the League Cup was nothing more than a distraction for some clubs, who prioritised consolidating their league position or European exploits above cup progression, an attitude that became almost traditional.
The sight of managers resting their entire first eleven and drafting in youngsters and fringe players became all too common in the competition. The tide may be turning in that respect, according to Kamara, who believes clubs are slowly coming around to the rewards success in the cup tournament can bring.
“In recent seasons the attitude to clubs has changed and you see every team in the Premier League, minus the top four, playing their best players and wanting to win it because they know how important trophies can be,” Kamara said.
“No one is taking the cup lightly anymore, as it’s a genuine shot at silverware that clubs need. The likes of Everton and Spurs have all been putting their best elevens out in the first rounds. These clubs have a 25-man squad, and are starting to realise that they have to play what would be considered the strongest available, barring those out injured, and try keep some cohesion within the team and maybe win it.”
“Clubs are now thinking, ‘why should we have to prioritise?’ Winning football matches breeds confidence and belief.”
One of the virtues of the third round of the competition is the intriguing possibility of upsets, and tonight and tomorrow’s round of games presents that opportunity in abundance. MK Dons v Sunderland, Crawley v Swansea, Arsenal v Coventry and Carlisle v Tottenham are perhaps the most compelling fixtures on show, and the Premier League sides will have no choice but to respect the competition and their opponents.
“There is virtually potential upsets in all of the ties, no ifs or buts about it," the Sky Sports pundit added. "If any of those teams such as Spurs or Swansea are playing below the required standard, or don't treat the competition with respect, or don't treat the opposing club in the right way then they could all potentially come a cropper.”
"Everyone seems to be aware now of what this competition is all about now, and if they lose it will be because they weren't good enough on the night, not because they've taken the competition lightly”
Chris Kamara was speaking to Sportsvibe on behalf of Capital One, the credit card company and new sponsors of The League Cup. Round 3 of the Capital One Cup takes place on 25th and 26th of September