Aston Villa is the underdog for its English Capital One Cup third round tie against Tottenham but Paul Lambert’s record in the maligned knockout competition merits respect and his Villans represent the early championship value at odds of 34.00 with BetVictor.
With Birmingham and Swansea having won two of the last three editions of the English Capital One Cup, it is obvious that the English Football League-sanctioned tournament does not have the gravitas now that it had, say, 20 years ago.
Striking an early English Capital One Cup bet requires one to read the minds of the managers of the 20 English Premier League teams because, quite frankly, the competition is not a priority to all of them, particularly those whose sides are trying to juggle domestic and international commitments.
Based on recent history and the position in which his team finds itself, one can assume that Paul Lambert is one of the English Premier League managers who has a great deal of time for the English Capital One Cup. Lambert has led not one but two sides to the last four of the tournament and the Scot will be looking to reward Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner with a piece of silverware for sticking with him when it would have been easy to do the opposite last season.
Even though Aston Villa was embroiled in a relegation fight last term, Lambert committed to the English Capital One Cup and his Villans responded, reaching the semi-finals thanks to victories over Tranmere (home), Manchester City (away), Swindon (away) and Norwich (away). Aston Villa came unstuck in its two-legged tie versus fourth-tier Bradford but it was not for the want of trying. Bradford was the story of last season’s English Capital One Cup and Aston Villa was not the only English Premier League team to lose to the Bantams.
Lambert’s love affair with the English Capital One Cup began during his first campaign in charge of English League Two side Wycombe. Lambert led Wycombe to the last four of the 2006-2007 competition, with the Chairboys beating Swansea (away), Fulham (away), Doncaster (home), Notts County (away) and Charlton (away) before losing 1-5 on aggregate to the eventual tournament winner, Chelsea, in the semi-finals.
Aston Villa is the second most successful team in English Capital One Cup history, with the Villans having won the competition five times and finished second three times. However, Aston Villa has not won a major trophy since 1996 when the Villans won this tournament thanks to its 3-0 final defeat of Leeds in which Savo Milosevic, Ian Taylor and Dwight Yorke scored the Birmingham-based side’s goals.
Lambert will be keen to right that and he appears to have the players to do it sooner rather than later. As a likely top-10 English Premier League finisher whose boss has shown that he rates the English Capital One Cup, Aston Villa is a better bet than some of the other teams close to it in the title market, which include Newcastle and Sunderland.
None of the English Premier League’s big six appeal at the odds. Chelsea is the favourite with most bookmakers because Jose Mourinho sets out to win every competition and he led the Blues to glory twice in his first three-season spell. Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has been hired to improve the results of the Citizens in the UEFA Champions League not England’s secondary knockout tournament, while Manchester United has to overcome the record of David Moyes in big games and its tie against Liverpool in the third round. Tottenham travels to Aston Villa and, even though Arsenal could end its trophy drought by winning the English Capital One Cup, it is sufficiently short at odds of 11.00.
English Capital One Cup holder Swansea warrants a mention at odds of 41.00 but the Swans look set for a decent campaign in the UEFA Europa League having beaten Valencia 3-0 in Spain last week. Swansea manager Michael Laudrup will be very mindful not to expend too much energy in various cup competitions because it would not take much for the Swans to get sucked into an English Premier League relegation scrap.