The Capital One Cup has gained something of a reputation as the underdog’s trophy with Swansea, Birmingham City and Middlesbrough victors in the last decade and numerous lower league sides going deep in the competition in recent years.
Here we look at three teams left in the draw that might rate dark, dark horses for outright victory in the 2013/14 tournament.
Southampton @ 20/1
Improving under Mauricio Pocchetino, the Saints have developed a cup-run-friendly relish for the big games, beating Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool (twice) in 2013.
Many of those impressive results came at St Mary’s and they’ll be hard to beat at a ground where they’ve lost just twice in 10 games since their latest boss replaced Nigel Adkins.
Furthermore, the south coast club have added a new string to their bow this term in a newfound defensive stinginess, conceding just twice in their first five Premier League games.
Swansea City @ 33/1
Seldom will you be able to get on the previous season’s winner at a price as alluring as this and Michael Laudrup’s men have hardly shed the footballing qualities that helped them eliminate Liverpool and Chelsea on the way to Wembley glory last February.
The demands of a potential Europa League run should be offset by a prudent recruitment drive that saw 14 new players through the doors at the Liberty Stadium this summer.
Watford @ 66/1
A side from outside the Premier League has reached at least the semi-finals of the League Cup in three of the last four years and the Hornets could be this year’s surprise package.
Gianfranco Zola’s men have notched 24 goals in 10 games so far this term and look to have a similar profile to recent lower division finalists Cardiff and Bradford in that they’re contenders for promotion in the division in which they ply their trade.
A favourable draw and a few of the shock eliminations of big sides’ B-teams that have become this competition’s speciality will aid their chances and a third-round clash with Norwich – for which they can be backed for victory at 8/5 – looks eminently winnable.