Reds and Blues don't want another shoot-out

Reds and Blues don't want another shoot-out

When Liverpool and Chelsea met in the Carabao (League Cup) final two years ago the score after extra time was a disappointing 0-0 with both teams having missed good chances. However, what happened at Wembley in the ensuing penalty shoot-out will long be remembered by anyone who witnessed it.

In an incredibly tense shoot-out all of the first 21 penalty kicks were remarkably converted, with Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher on target for his team's 11th penalty to make it 11-10.

Up stepped Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga who blasted the 22nd spot kick over the bar and Liverpool had won the trophy for the ninth time. Manager Juergen Klopp called the penalty shoot-out "one of the most remarkable I have ever seen."

The teams meet again in tomorrow's final and hopefully the match will be settled in more orthodox fashion and not decided by the lottery of a shoot-out.

Liverpool will naturally be strong favourites having comfortably beaten the Blues 4-1 in the league earlier this month. But Chelsea have shown signs of improvement including a draw at Man City and manager Mauricio Pochettini would desperately like to win something to boost morale.

Chelsea will have closely watched Liverpool's game against Luton Town and know they will have to be at their best against the rampant Reds. Despite being beset by injuries, Liverpool rallied from a surprise half-time deficit to swamp the Hatters in the second half as they raced to a 4-1 victory.

It is argued that the big clubs still regard the League Cup as an unnecessary distraction, a competition not worth shedding too many tears over if they get knocked out. But this is not reflected by the winners in recent years with the big clubs increasingly monopolising possession.

In the first 25 years the trophy was won by 15 different clubs. But in the past 10 years only four clubs have picked up the trophy. Manchester City have won it six times. Manchester United twice and Liverpool and Chelsea once each. The only "non-heavyweights'' to hold the trophy in "recent" times have been Birmingham (2011) and Swansea (2013).

The inescapable fact is that, despite their apparent indifference to the competition, most clubs would be delighted to have the League Cup in their trophy cabinet.

The tournament has appeared in many guises -- Milk Cup, Littlewoods, Rumbelows, Coca-Cola, Worthington, Carling and Capital Cup. Currently it is the Carabao Cup sponsored by the Thai energy drink company which holds the rights until 2027. Many still call it the League Cup.

When the competition was first introduced a number of the leading clubs at the time -- including Tottenham, Wolves, Arsenal, West Brom and Sheffield Wednesday -- refused to take part, claiming they already had too many games. However, they gradually relented and since the early 1970s, every club has participated, although often not fielding their strongest sides.

The clubs realised that the tournament gave them the opportunity to blood new players who otherwise wouldn't have been given a chance to play first team football. It also helped in giving a game to out of favour stars who had been spending too much of their time on the bench.

Managers' opinions of the League Cup tend to be a direct reflection of their club's success in the event any given year. If they get knocked out it's regarded as an irrelevant trophy but if they reach the final it's one of the most significant tournaments in the world.

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