It's only the Capital One Cup, they say. A side-attraction to the main entertainment of the Premier League and Champions League, lacking the magic and history of the FA Cup.

It's been a big opportunity for the nation's top teams to blood their youngsters, giving them a taste of competitive football without throwing them into a maze blindfolded.

Three years ago Birmingham City took home the trophy after a late calamity from Arsenal; the following year Cardiff City were a penalty shoot-out away from snatching the cup from Liverpool's grasp; and last year a League Two side made the final, eventually getting a pasting from Swansea after heroics against Arsenal and Aston Villa. 

So why, this year, should it be so different?

Following Sir Alex Ferguson's departure, the return of the Special One, the sale of Gareth Bale and the arrival of Manuel Pellegrini amongst many other things, this year's Premier League has become the most open race for quite some time. 

Right now as many as six teams could believe they have some (even a slim) chance of winning it, with Southampton and Everton also starting the season well to throw another cat in amongst some frightened pigeons. 

The Champions League is the biggest prize of them all - but the strength of the top teams in Germany and Spain make that a much harder trophy to win than anything domestic.

David Moyes never won a trophy for all his good work at Everton and after a slow start at Manchester United, the League Cup would at least provide some respite. 

Pellegrini likewise, for all his good work with Real Madrid and steering Malaga to within seconds of a Champions League semi-final last season, has not won a major trophy in Europe.

Jose Mourinho hates losing any game and would love to completely dominate English football with his Chelsea team - this tournament would represent the start of that success for the Blues. 

And how desperately does Arsene Wenger need silverware, despite the exciting start made by the Gunners this season? Eight years without a trophy is still far too long in Arsenal fans' eyes regardless of anything that has happened so far this season - it will need to be backed up by that cabinet being filled with other things besides dust.

With Tottenham also searching for their first trophy since 2008, when they beat Chelsea 2-1 in the final of this very competition, and Southampton also possibly fancying their own chances of glory following an outstanding beginning to this season, it all sets up for the most exciting Capital One Cup for many years.

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