Now that Jose Mourinho has clinched the 2016/17 EFL Cup with Manchester United, his first trophy secured with his new club, we turn our attention to next season’s tournament, where 92 teams from England’s four biggest leagues - the Premier League, Championship, League One and League Two - will go head-to-head as they compete to add some silverware to their trophy cabinets.
The 2017/18 EFL Cup will kick off on Friday 4th August, with a total of 70 teams from tier two, three and four competing to remain in the competition. The 35 winning teams will then be drawn against each other in the second round, with another 15 Premier League clubs joining them, before the seven remaining Premier League sides (those competing in European competition) enter at the third round stage.
The fifth round, quarter-finals and semi-finals will then proceed, with the final eventually taking place on Sunday 25th February 2018.
Interestingly, the tournament is set to be renamed for the second time in two years. The Carling Cup became the EFL Cup for the 2016/17 season after the deal with the alcohol manufacturers expired. Unable to find a new sponsor, the tournament went without any branding for a season. However, Thai energy drink giants Carabao have been unveiled as the new sponsors after agreeing to an £18 million deal.
As such, the 2017/18 EFL Cup is now set to become the inaugural Carabao Cup, but which teams are likely to walk away with the trophy?
As one of the most successful teams in the history of English football, Manchester United are always among the favourites to clinch the cup competitions. They have struggled in the league since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson back in 2013, but, having won the 2016/17 EFL Cup, they have now claimed two cup trophies in two seasons.
As is always the case, the luck of the draw can often dictate who reaches the final, but with the likes of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Manchester United can power past any side on their day.
Antonio Conte has transformed Chelsea from a mid-table side in 2015/16 to the best team in the Premier League in 2016/17. With an impeccable defensive line and fast, attacking football at the other end, Chelsea have the ability to carve open opposition defences with ease.
With star striker Diego Costa reportedly considering a move away from the club this summer, with Chinese Super League clubs offering huge wages, the squad could look somewhat different by the time the Carabao Cup kicks off, but, with money to invest, Chelsea should be among the frontrunners next season.
Pep Guardiola had a tough first season in English football, which he has quickly learnt is far more competitive than La Liga and the Bundesliga. However, given his managerial brilliance, we can expect the Spaniard to push on next season.
With a squad filled to the brim with quality and emerging talent Gabriel Jesus set to become the focal point of Manchester City’s attack next season, they are likely to be back competing on all fronts, including in the EFL Cup.