There seems to me to be something at play with the League Cup Final and I would almost go so far as to suggest the Premier League’s intention, well before the season started, was to undermine that competition.
Before Liverpool play Manchester City, there is a Premier League game.
Arsenal v Manchester Utd.
Now, in any given season, that is one of the blue riband Premier League games. It has a history of antipathy and is almost guaranteed to feature two teams who are towards the top of the league. If you watch one game this afternoon and enjoy the Premier League, you would likely choose that one, and the League Cup Final can hang.
Had Liverpool not made the final, they were due to be facing Everton this weekend. If it was Arsenal v Manchester City, there’d be a Merseyside Derby with all the hoopla and shenanigans and history that go with that. That would be the game before the League Cup Final – again, if you’ve got that interest, the cup game can sing.
This season’s match scheduling seems almost deliberately arranged to minimise the ‘watchability’ of the League Cup Final by ensuring that, whoever qualifies for it, there is a big Premier League game to overshadow it.
If things went the other way. If the Premier League knew that the League Cup held interest, the Sunday game would have been a lesser fixture – the cup of friends between Norwich and Sunderland maybe.
This issue is not as a result of who has qualified for the final, in other words, but in the match scheduling done well before the season even started. Whoever got there, the Premier League wanted to have the ‘bigger’ game that afternoon. As it happens, they might have won out. It is difficult to imagine how they wouldn’t. Perhaps if it was Spurs v Arsenal, or Manchester Utd v. Manchester City in the final.