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Five of the biggest League Cup final upsets in history

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It’s that time of the year again. The time that signifies the beginning of the end for domestic football in England. While there is still three months left to play in the Premier League and EFL, the final of the League Cup at the end of February always acts as somewhat of a wake-up call for football fans across the country, and confirms that we are very much now at the business end of proceedings. 

With Manchester City and Aston Villa locking horns in Sunday’s final at Wembley, there is potential for a major upset in north London should Dean Smith’s men pull off the unthinkable and defeat the reigning champions. It’s unlikely, to be fair, considering the way in which each of these clubs’ seasons are panning out - but there is a chance. 

With this in mind, Betting Odds have taken a look at five of the biggest shocks the final of this competition has seen over the years. 

QPR 3-2 West Brom, 1967

A crowd of almost 100,000 were in attendance to witness third division side QPR defeat first division outfit West Brom back in 1967. After Clive Clark initially put the Baggies two goals in front with a well-taken brace, the Hoops hit back through Roger Morgan and Rodney Marsh. Then, in the 81st minute, Mark Lazarus scored the all-important winner to ensure the trophy would be heading to west London. A dramatic turn of events, culminating in QPR becoming the first ever third-tier side to win a major English trophy - now that’s, that’s history.

Stoke 2-1 Chelsea, 1972

Six years later and there was another shock on the cards, as Stoke beat Chelsea to clinch their first ever piece of silverware. The Potters were huge underdogs against a Blues side who had recently claimed both the FA Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup. Indeed, thanks to a terrific individual performance from England shot-stopper Gordon Banks - who managed to shut out a barrage of attacks from Dave Sexton’s side to keep a clean sheet - goals from Terry Conroy and George Eastham secured a 2-0 victory for the Staffordshire outfit at Wembley.

Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 Man Utd, 1991

Former Manchester United boss Ron Atkinson faced his former side, managed by a much younger-looking Sir Alex Ferguson, in the 1990-91 League Cup final. Nobody expected ‘Big Ron’ to come out victorious in this encounter; after all, his Sheffield Wednesday team were playing in the Second Division, while United were making progress under Fergie in the top-flight and had won the FA Cup the season beforehand. However, a sensational long-range strike from Owls midfielder John Sheridan ensured a shock at Wembley, with Wednesday running out as 1-0 winners. 

Luton 3-2 Arsenal, 1988

It has since been hailed as one of the most exhilarating League Cup finals in history - a five goal thriller between Luton Town and Arsenal, which resulted in the Hatters edging the then-reigning champions in their first ever appearance in the final of the competition. Luton had Andy Dibble - a player who had made just five appearances all season - between the sticks in place of the injured Les Sealey.

‘Dibbsy’ did a fantastic job, though, and despite conceding twice he was awarded the coveted Man of the Match award after saving Nigel Winterburn’s penalty to prevent Arsenal taking a 3-1 lead. With the scoreline standing at 2-1, Luton’s Danny Wilson equalised before a last-minute free-kick from Brian Stein - scorer of the opening goal - secured an unlikely 3-2 win for Ray Harford’s side.

Birmingham 2-1 Arsenal, 2011

The most recent sizeable upset in a League Cup final came back in 2011, when relegation-threatened Premier League strugglers Birmingham defeated Arsenal 2-1. The Gunners were overwhelming favourites to win this one, with the bookies pricing the north Londoners up at 2/7 before the match. Nikola Zigic spoiled Arsene Wenger’s party when he nodded home a first-half header from a corner, however, before Robin van Persie hit back with a well-taken volley to ensure the two sides would head into the break on a level playing field.

With the game level and nearing its end, thus heading to extra-time, a monumental lapse in concentration from Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and centre-half Laurent Koscielny saw the ball fall kindly to Blues striker Obafemi Martins om the 89th minute, who simply stroked it effortlessly into an empty net. Elation for the West Midlanders, and a day they will never forget. Sadly, though, they didn’t win their battle against the drop and were relegated on the final day of the campaign. They’re yet to return, or win the League Cup for that matter.

Odds for this Sunday’s League Cup final:

Aston Villa - 22/1

Draw - 17/2

Man City - 1/7

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