The League Cup’s Capital One rebranding didn’t instantly indicate that English football’s third glitziest trophy would enjoy a scrub from the cool brush, but it is establishing itself as the nation’s most entertaining competition.
Last season’s edition married goal-drenched contests like Reading 5-7 Arsenal and Chelsea 5-4 Man Utd with unthinkable semi-final triumphs for Swansea and Bradford over Chelsea and Aston Villa.
The bar consequently creaked up to Peter Crouch-ian heights before the Premier League’s European football shirkers made their 2013/14 debut on August 27, but the early signs are that nets will be rippled relentlessly again.
Tuesday’s 18 second round matches delivered 80 strikes, a remarkable figure even accounting for five encounters stretching an extra 30 minutes due to draws in normal time.
Rather beautifully, the perceived lack of enthusiasm for the Capital One Cup has transpired to be its greatest asset.
The lack of expectancy encourages a more carefree attitude, an increase in experimentation and a reduction in the pressure levels prone to spawn unwatchable safety-first football.
The question now is whether the 14 clubs in action on Wednesday can accelerate the Capital One Cup’s journey from exacerbation to admiration.
Watford’s all-Championship clash with Bournemouth appears most ripe for an over 3.5 goal plunge at 6/4.
It pits the second tier’s strongest attack – Watford have scored 11 in four – against its most generous defence – Bournemouth have leaked 12 in four. The Hornets’ 6-1 cruise in their August 10 meeting reinforced those figures.
Aston Villa and Rotherham is another pairing that screams over 3.5 goals at 11/10 as Villa’s clean sheet-less streak now stands at 30 games.
Their defensive failings aren’t exposed exclusively by Premier League opponents either. Last term, Millwall and Swindon fired two against them and Bradford breached them three times in one match.
With Rotherham notching five times in their first two League One away outings and doubts over the fitness of several Villa defenders, there is a clear recipe for goals.