Football Follow-up

27 01 2010

As a follow up to the somewhat controversial (judging by the reaction supporting and disagreeing both in the comments section and verbally) post a couple of days ago regarding the FA Cup’s relative importance in the game, the League Cup warrants a mention today.

Ryan Giggs is in the papers saying that the successful retention of the trophy is more important than bragging rights over Manchester City. This may of course be a little bit of subtle psychological warfare, insinuating that City don’t really matter to United as long as there beaten, but also suggests (contrary) to our views that the League Cup is important to a top four team. Back when the the League Cup was the Worthington Cup, it was not uncommon to here supporters of the big 4 refer to it as the ‘Worthless Cup’ and laugh at Spurs or Middlesborough supporters cheering wildly at their success.

The reality is though that any cup competition is valuable to the team whilst the club remains part of it. If a Man U or Arsenal were enjoying cup runs in all FA, League and European Cups there is little doubt that, if fixture pile up was a problem and rotation was needed to ensure player freshness, the League Cup would be the first too be sacrificed.  This of course is what we intended in the previous article regarding the FA Cup, obscurity is too strong a word, but given the choice big clubs choose big competitions every time. Despite this choice, their strength in depth often means they have too much anyway for the lesser clubs but the League Cup still represents the best chance of silverware for a club outside the top 4.

The big 4 clubs may have to be reclassified at the end of this season. Liverpool returned to their inconsistent ways last night against lowly placed Wolves. It has been a strange season for Liverpool with their last two results, 2-0 win against Spurs and then this draw, reflecting how their season has gone. With Man City having seemingly limitless cash Liverpool’s grasp on their big 4 status looks tenuous. Currently they seem to have slipped back down to the rung below where Spurs and Villa sit and do not show any signs of regaining their exalted previous status any time soon.

Arsenal who are currently experiencing a fixture pile up of epic proportions, face Aston Villa tonight in the first of what could be the deciding set of games in their entire campaign. They are a young side without much physical presence and it is testament to Wenger’s skills as a spotter and nurturer of talent that if they win tonight they regain top spot. The only question is, can they maintain this form? I believe they can, although this maybe more a testament to the fact that the only football shirt I have ever owned was an Arsenal one, rather than a firm belief that they won’t fade.

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