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Time for West Ham to make League Cup history

West Ham have a chequered past when it comes to the League Cup and this year would be an excellent opportunity to write a positive chapter in their history in the competition.

The Hammers have yet to win the League Cup and have only reached the final on two occasions. In 1966, they were beaten 5-3 on aggregate by West Brom in what was the last two-legged League Cup final. Then, 15 years later, Ray Stewart’s penalty in the last minute of extra-time earned a replay against Liverpool, who won 2-1 at Villa Park at the second time of asking.

Mark Noble scores a penalty for West Ham by Ben Sutherland, on Flickr

   by  Ben Sutherland 

That means this season marks 35 years since West Ham’s last appearance in the League Cup final and, ahead of next summer’s move into the Olympic Stadium, it would be a timely way to mark the club’s departure from Upton Park. And what better way for the club’s longest-serving player Mark Noble, who made his West Ham debut in the League Cup, to celebrate being named captain than by lifting a trophy at Wembley next spring?

West Ham’s participation in the Europa League, even if they only got as far as the preliminary rounds, means they have avoided one banana skin already after second-round defeats by Sheffield United and Aldershot at home in recent years.

Still, the third round hasn’t been much kinder given they have been knocked out of the competition five times at that stage in the past decade. Also, the last time West Ham started off in the third round due to playing in Europe, they suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at Chesterfield.

But, for all there have been surprise defeats, West Ham have reached the semi-final stage in two of the previous five seasons. In 2011, a golden opportunity to reach the final was passed up when they lost 4-3 on aggregate to Birmingham after extra time. The less said about 2014’s semi-final appearance the better after a 9-0 aggregate defeat by Manchester City, which came on the back of the 5-0 thumping at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round.

There will at least not be such a shock factor about the outcome of their third-round tie this year as they face Premier League rivals Leicester away from home.

Leicester have already won 2-1 at West Ham this season, which was just their second victory at Upton Park in 48 years, and have made an excellent start under Claudio Ranieri.

West Ham Vs Birkrikara by joshjdss, on Flickr

   by  joshjdss 

But West Ham have been impressive away from home to date and a solid start to the season will give Slaven Bilic the opportunity to pick a strong team for the tie. They are also shorter in the League Cup betting than Leicester and so should go to the Walkers Stadium in a positive frame of mind.

History between the two clubs in cup competitions is thin on the ground, with only one previous League Cup meeting. That came in 1964 when Leicester beat West Ham on aggregate in the semi-finals before going on to beat Stoke in the final. In the FA Cup, they have also met just once, again with Leicester the victors.

So now is the ideal time for West Ham to make a bit of history – beat Leicester in a cup game for the first time before going on to win the League Cup for the first time as well.

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I've been a passionate Hammers fan since i can remember. Growing up in Canning Town i was always down Upton Park as it was only a 10 minute walk down the Barking road. Always and forever COYI ! West Ham Till I Die !

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