Many of the big guns have been knocked out of domestic league cups lately, perhaps the most notable, Real Madrid's loss to the Basque 3rd division side Real Union. Another one bit the dust tonight, as Villareal crashed out to Polideportivo Ejido, also a 3rd division side, which they deserved after drawing 1-1 at El Madrigal after losing 5-0 away.
Now it's Chelsea and Liverpool's turn. The Blues were knocked out by Championship side Burnley on penalties, which featured a Drogba goal on his return from injury, and a little rude gesture as well. And for Liverpool, well, they got manhandled by Spurs, who have scored an impressive 18 goals in the last six matches.
No doubt it would've been nice to compete on several fronts, but this is perhaps a blessing in disguise for the Premier League leaders, as the Carling Cup means less to the top 4 than it does to the rest of the league. Except Arsenal, since even a broken handle off of a tarnished tea set would make Gooners ecstatic, let alone an actual cup you can swill champagne out of.
While mocked in the media as a frivolous competition for top-flight sides, and cherished as a massive financial and sporting opportunity for the smaller clubs in England, the League Cup may further lose its significance as the credit crunch continues and we see half full stadia.
[Goal, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Examiner]