Who has won the League Cup most times?

The League Cup holds a unique, almost paradoxical place in the hierarchy of the English footballing pyramid.

Bowing out of the early rounds of England’s demonstrably second-tier cup competition scarcely prompts a crisis but as soon as you win the trophy it’s importance explodes. Alan Hardaker, the brains behind the tournament’s creation in 1960 – 89 years after the FA Cup launched – argued: “If the FA Cup is football’s Ascot, the League Cup Final is its Derby Day.”

23 different teams have hoisted aloft this particular pot but which club has charged down the final furlong more often than the rest?

Liverpool snuck ahead of Manchester City in the all-time standings with their triumph in 2022, taking the club’s tally to nine.

During Bob Paisley’s champagne-soaked tenure, Liverpool won the League Cup in four consecutive seasons between 1981 and 1984. Ian Rush played in the last three finals of that sequence before captaining the Reds when they next won the trophy a decade later in 1995.

Gerard Houllier steered Liverpool to another two successes in the space of three years at the start of the millennium before Kenny Dalglish – the creative heartbeat of Paisley’s team – oversaw a penalty shootout triumph against second-tier Cardiff City in 2012.

Pep Guardiola replicated Paisley’s feat of four successive League Cup crowns between 2018 and 2021. However, City have targeted the first trophy of each season since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover, winning the 2014 and 2016 editions of the League Cup.

Aston Villa, Chelsea and Manchester United have all won this maligned gong five times. Villa were the inaugural winners of the competition back in 1961 – when the trophy was so low down the pecking order it was delayed until the following season – and haven’t won the crown since 1996.

Two pillars of Manchester City’s modern monopoly over English football boast the record for most League Cups claimed. Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho have each won the trophy six times – almost 10% of every title awarded in the competition’s history.

Fernandinho started all six victorious finals, scoring against Liverpool in 2016 (before missing his spot kick in the penalty shootout) and captaining City against Tottenham in 2021.

Aguero was left on the bench for that recent triumph, watching on as Aymeric Laporte’s solitary goal decided a game played in front of fewer than 8,000 spectators given the COVID-19 restrictions.

For much of Aguero’s career, he was rested in the early stages of the competition before being called upon in the semi-finals. But by his final season at City, the club’s record scorer was only afforded 16 minutes of action across the entire tournament – though still qualified for a record-equalling medal.

The women’s League Cup was only established in 2011. While the men’s equivalent has had a host of sponsors over the years – mostly beverages coincidentally – Continental Tires have had their name slapped on the women’s League Cup for the past decade, which explains why the tournament is colloquially known as the Conti Cup.

Arsenal won the first edition of the tournament – ironically at Pirelli Stadium – before claiming the next two to establish a stranglehold of the competition since its inception. The Gunners boast an unrivalled five League Cup titles, narrowly ahead of Manchester City who can claim four.

Chelsea are the only other club to have ever won the Conti Cup, beating Arsenal in 2020 and romping past Bristol City with a 6-0 thrashing in 2021. Chelsea and Arsenal can both add to their respective totals when they meet in the final of this year’s tournament at Selhurst Park on Sunday, 5 March.

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