Numerous years ago this was a tournament left for teams likely to finish ouside the top 4, it was a route into Europe and with the top usually fielding very weakened teams it was a tournament the likes of the Citys, Villas and Hotspurs felt they could go all the way in.
Apart from Tottenham Hotspur winning two years ago the Cup has always been shared by the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal as the once "leave alone" tournament has now been seen as a very good addition to the silver cabinet plus it creates mass coverage abroad when a team lifts a trophy. The amount of worldwide fans that would buy a shirt after a Carling Cup Final victory is meteoric and certain footballing CEOs have now seen this as a goog financial bonus every February.
This year will see the likes of perhaps some the top 4 not taking it as seriously and yesteryear. The Premiership and Champions League are far too important, and with many other teams improving within the league they may feel it best to field their 3rd string. The games do provide valuable experience to those players that are usually on the fringes of the main team meaning that managers would prefer to give some of their youngsters a go whilst resting the big guns.
There is however alway one big 4 team that will get close enough with the youngster to think, yeah two more games and we have a cup in our cupboard. Arsenal in particular who have not won a trophy in 4 years will certainly want something to show for their efforts so could be of great value at the best online bookmakers currently priced at 7/1. Chelsea have been given the 4/1 favourites tag whilst Aston Villa, who have no more European obligations look good value at 12/1.