|By PAUL GOUGH
Chelsea's recent hoarding of silverware looks set to continue, with the Blues now hot favourites to add yet another trophy to their bulging cabinet - the English League Cup.
The League Cup, or the Capital One Cup as it is styled for sponsorship reasons, is the first of the three major trophies on offer in England each season, with the competition now down to the quarter-final stage.
However, with defending champions Liverpool, 2008 winners Tottenham and 2006, 2009 and 2010 champions Manchester United - beaten 5-4 by Chelsea in the previous round - all having been knocked out, the stage is set for Roberto di Matteo's men to secure another title.
In fact, the only other big gun left in the competition is Arsenal, who have a history of using this competition to blood their youngsters.
The Gunners, who have not won a trophy since lifting the FA Cup in 2005, were shock losers in the 2011 final to Birmingham and also lost the 2007 final to Chelsea.
That was the last time the Blues lifted the League Cup but, since then, they have won four of the past six FA Cups and last season became the first London club ever to win the prestigious UEFA Champions League.
And with the Blues drawing struggling Championship side Leeds away in the quarter-finals - played in mid-December - the bookies have been quick to install Chelsea as favourites to again emerge triumphant from Wembley when the final of this competition is staged in late February.
The Blues are the $2.40 favourites to win the League Cup this season at sportsbet.com.au and $2.54 at Betfair in what increasingly looks like a two-horse race, with Arsenal second favourites paying $3.10 with sportsbet.com.au and $3.40 with Betfair.
|Chelsea to win the League Cup at $2.54 at Betfair
||Middlesbrough to win the League Cup at $26 at Betfair|
Arsenal have also been handed what appears a soft draw in the quarter-finals away to League Two battlers Bradford, who have performed superbly to reach the last eight but have not won a major trophy since capturing the FA Cup more than a century ago in 1911.
The other quarter-finals will pit two EPL strugglers against each other, with Norwich hosting Aston Villa.
Elsewhere, EPL surprise packets over the last two seasons in Swansea host high-flying Championship side Middlesbrough in what looks the pick of four quarter-finals.
Both Norwich and Aston Villa lifted their last major trophies in this competition in 1985 and 1996 respectively, while Boro were runners-up in 1997 and 1998 before finally lifting their first major trophy in this competition in 2004.
However, punters firmly believe either Chelsea or Arsenal will lift the trophy this season, with those two teams accounting for 87 percent of money currently traded on who will win this competition at Betfair.
However Boro, who are now captained by Socceroo Rhys Williams and also have Australian striker Scott McDonald within their ranks, look the best value of the six outsiders left in the competition at $26 at Betfair and as short as $15 at sportsbet.com.au to win the League Cup.
Boro, who are heading for a return to the EPL next season through their great form in the Championship, have already knocked out one top-flight side in Sunderland and will fancy their chances against Swansea, before hoping to avoid either Chelsea or Arsenal in the semi-finals.
*Note prices subject to change