It’s the third of three competitions in England, but when it gets down to the semifinals, the League Cup takes on a special feel. The two legs, home and away, give the round a feeling unique to English soccer. And of course, the winners get a trip to Wembley for a chance at silverware and a place in Europe.
Today, Chelsea became the fourth League Cup semifinalists, with Aston Villa, Swansea City, and League Two’s Bradford City having confirmed their places last week.
At Elland Road, the Blues gave up the first goal to Luciano Becchio and Leeds United before five goals by five different players saw Chelsea to a 5-1 victory.
The Blues move on face Michael Laudrup’s Swansea City in what could prove a dangerous tie. Swans sit 10th in the Premier League in large part due to the league’s joint-top scorer, Michu (12 goals). As the Blues showed in Japan (and after 45 minutes today), they remain vulnerable, though over 180 minutes, that vulnerability may ned to reach new levels to be ousted by Swansea.
In the other half of the draw, Aston Villa’s recent resurgence (unbeaten since Nov. 17) has landed them a matchup with Bradford City. The fourth-tier club currently sit fifth in League Two thanks in large part to Bermuda attacker Nahki Wells’ 12 goals.
Having already seen off Arsenal, the Bantams are unlikely to give Villa the easy time their stature suggests, even if Paul Lambert’s side will be heavily favored.
At this point, this competition is Chelsea’s to lose. Even with their newfound bipolarity, they should be able to claim a trophy for Rafa.