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EFL Cup: Dates, schedule and history

The EFL Cup is the first opportunity English clubs have to win silverware and, while it doesn't have the prestige of other competitions, it remains a much-coveted trophy.

For much of the last decade, the EFL Cup has been won by one of the Premier League big boys, with Manchester United picking up the prize last season, but it still represents a chance for smaller clubs and those in the lower leagues to compete for glory.

Smaller clubs such as Birmingham City and Swansea City have lifted the trophy in recent times, while Cardiff City, Bradford City and Sunderland are among the clubs to have reached the final in the past decade since the Blues upset Arsenal in 2011.

With a Europa League place on offer to the winner, the EFL Cup retains plenty of prestige, even if a lot of the Premier League clubs opt to rotate their squads for the early rounds, often giving youngsters and fringe players the chance to impress.

WhatEFL Cup 2023/24
WhereVarious stadia across England and Wales
WhenTuesday, 8th August 2023 - Sunday, 25th February 2024
How to watchSky Sports & ITV (highlights)
OddsLiverpool 7/2, Arsenal 4/1, Man Utd 4/1, Chelsea 5/1, Newcastle 11/2

EFL Cup dates

Traditionally, the competition's early rounds take place from August and it builds up throughout the autumn and winter and into the New Year.

The final usually takes place at Wembley on the final Sunday of February, but has also been held on the first Sunday in March.

EFL Cup format

All 92 clubs in the Premier League and the three divisions of the English Football League enter the competition each year.

In the first round, every EFL team is involved, although clubs recently relegated to the Championship have received a bye through to the second round in recent seasons.

That wasn't the case for the 2023/24 edition as Southampton, Leeds United and Leicester City were all involved from the start, with the Saints losing out to Gillingham of League Two.

For the following round, the top-flight sides not involved in European competition are thrown into the draw.

The third round sees the Premier League clubs playing European football that season enter the fray.

Matches in all rounds are single-legged, except for the semi-finals, which are played over two legs at the respective teams' home stadiums.

The final was a two-legged affair from 1961 to 1966, but has been a single game ever since, with the most recent edition ending in a 2-0 win for Manchester United against Newcastle United on 26th February 2023 at Wembley.

EFL Cup venues

The cup takes place throughout England and Wales, with the final usually held at Wembley Stadium on either the final Sunday in February or the first in March.

Cardiff’s Millennium/Principality Stadium did temporarily host the game while Wembley was being rebuilt between 2001 and 2007, while the trophy has also been lifted at Hillsborough, Old Trafford, Villa Park and Maine Road when the final has gone to a replay prior to extra-time and penalties becoming the method of splitting sides if the score is tied after 90 minutes.

EFL Cup - How to watch

Sky Sports broadcasts 15 matches live in the competition per season, while ITV currently airs highlights throughout the rounds.

EFL Cup history

The EFL Cup was first held in 1960/61 as the Football League Cup, after being implemented by then Football League Secretary Alan Hardaker and it has been a permanent fixture on the calendar since.

Aston Villa were the first-ever winners in 1961, beating Rotherham United 3-2 on aggregate over two legs.

EFL Cup winners

Liverpool are the record winners of the competition, winning the tournament nine times, most recently in 2021/22 when they beat Chelsea on penalties after the final had finished goalless after extra-time.

Manchester City - who won the cup four times in succession between 2018 and 2021 - have lifted the trophy eight times, while United have now won it on six occasions and Aston Villa and Chelsea have both been victorious in the competition five times.

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