There was a sensible delay to kicking off the football season so as not to crash into the Olympics. But it has meant that for only the second time Leicester will begin the season with a League Cup tie rather than a league fixture.
For those looking for omens, the other time this happened in 1979/80 whe Leicester suffered a First Round defeat in the League Cup to Rotherham, but went on to win what was then Division Two. Neither event has happened since.
Last season Sven-Goran Eriksson used the League Cup to give run outs to players on the fringes of the first team. Indeed for Michael Ball, Matt Oakley, Franck Mousa and Chris Weale, the League Cup was the only competition in which they started.
Much attention now focuses on Nigel Pearson’s XI and what it could mean for Saturday’s lineup. On past experience, it could be relatively close. In 2009/10, Pearson made just four changes for the trip to Macclesfield from the side that started on the opening day against Swansea.
That said, with the Foxes playing four times in 12 days and eight fit midfielders looking to play in presumably only four spots, it’s in the engine room where Pearson is likely to do most tinkering.
Whatever team comes out, it has an impressive record to defend. Leicester have won 10 of the 11 First Round ties they’ve played in the League Cup. The last time they lost to a side outside the top two divisions came when they we the holders – a 3-1 collapse at Grimsby Town in 1997. The Foxes have also scored in their last 23 matches in this competition.
For Torquay, the League Cup has held little joy in recent times. They haven’t won a tie in this competition since 2001 and in that time have suffered nine defeats (two on penalties). The Gulls have been dumped out of the League Cup by Championship opposition in each of the last four years, and haven’t so much as reached the Third Round (the furthest they’ve ever progressed) since the 1970’s.
Truly this has an away win written all over it. Let’s hope Leicester start the campaign in the right way tonight.