The League Cup. Some clubs tend to regard it in the way Croatia manager Slaven Bilic regards the Community Shield, as being “a big deal if you win it, but not if you don’t”.
It is quite ironic that a decade ago when the final was Middlesbrough vs Leicester City, there was clamouring for the top teams to stop treating the competition as a “Mickey Mouse cup”.
Now though it seems to be more enjoyable if teams outside the so-called “big four” make it to Wembley because you can tell that they really care about it.
Whenever Arsenal play Tottenham it is always competitive and both teams always want to win. Naturally Gunners fans and the team will be disappointed at their exit, but let’s face facts, the League Cup is in no way the main priority for the red side of North London.
For Tottenham, a team like most outside the “big four” that find trips to cup finals more of a rarity, the opportunity to play at Wembley was just the motivation they needed and it showed on the pitch.
Incredibly unlucky not to run out the victors at the Emirates, the passion and verve shown by Tottenham, spurred on by an exhilarated White Hart Lane crowd, was too much for the Gunners.
Led by captain Robbie Keane, fast becoming one of the Premiership’s most consistent performers, the pace of the Spurs attack was a joy to behold. Aaron Lennon has probably given young defender Armand Traore nightmares for life, and the running from midfield by Jermaine Jenas confounded even William Gallas.
Tottenham ended up inflicting a defeat every bit as humiliating as Arsenal’s 6-3 drubbing of Liverpool in the competition last season.
Yes, in Arsenal’s defence they did not field a full strength side (although Fabregas, Eduardo, Gallas, Adebayor, Sagna and Hleb featured at some point), but this was a similar team in terms of quality to the one that made it to the final last year and nearly beat a full-strength Chelsea side.
Desire is a concept bandied about more than most in the sporting world. It is not a something that can be measured in the way that shots or possession can, but it is something that becomes more apparent when considering whether a League Cup final would mean more to Arsenal or Tottenham.
Now let’s hope we see similar desire shown by Everton against Chelsea so the neutral fans can watch a final that really means something.