The League Cup has made five fairly major rule changes for the 2018/19 season, so let’s go through each of them and whether they’re relevant to Arsenal.
VAR is back
Despite the Premier League failing to make the leap into the 21st century, VAR is set to continue in the League Cup this year. It was in use for Arsenal’s semi-final and final against Chelsea and Manchester City last year, although it wasn’t particularly extensively utilised on either occasion.
This year it will be used for all matches at Premier League grounds. Therefore all Arsenal home games will use it, but not necessarily the away games, depending on how the draw goes.
No more seeding
On the subject of the draw, there’ll be no more seeding in the first two rounds of the competition, meaning sides from all divisions can draw each other. This doesn’t affect Arsenal, as last season’s league finish means the Gunners enter the competition in the third round anyway.
From now on, matches that are level after 90 minutes will go straight to penalties. This is a very welcome change from an Arsenal point of view, because the Europa League does enough to exhaust the squad already.
Yellow cards don’t count towards league suspensions
In the past, all domestic matches counted towards the same yellow card tally. If you picked up one yellow in the FA Cup, two in the League Cup and two in the League, you’d get a one-game ban for reaching five in all competitions. This year, the League Cup is being counted separately.
No more ABBA
The ABBA penalty system came into play in English competitions last season, with team A taking one penalty, then team B taking two, before team A take two, and so on. Arsenal beat Chelsea using it in the Community Shield, and generally it seemed to be working pretty well for the players themselves.
Unfortunately, it was seemingly just too confusing for supporters to follow. I can personally confirm this, as I had to explain to five or six perplexed fans in the seats around me at Wembley what was going on when Nacho Monreal stepped up immediately after Theo Walcott.
Let’s hope the new rules lead to clubs taking the competition a bit more seriously, which should in turn result in more interesting matches. We can dream.