The Carabao Cup is back with a bang - *extremely* arguably English football's biggest cup competition.
Where else can you witness the Davids of Colchester vanquish the Goliaths of Tottenham on a dank, rainy night in Essex IN SEPTEMBER, in spite of one of the worst panenkas ever taken?
Where else can you see Southampton win 4-0 in the return of the historic South Coast derby before an enraged Pompey fan punches a police horse IN SEPTEMBER? Nowhere, that's where.
All joking aside, the Carabao Cup may not have the same significance as an FA Cup win, or a Premier League, I guess, but there is one club who should adjust their attitude to give it the same weighting this season.
That club is the Blues of west London - Frank Lampard's Chelsea. Purely based on their chances in other competitions, and how seriously their closest rivals will take the League Cup, you would wager that it is their best chance of silverware in 2019/20.
As previously mentioned, Spurs are already out of the way after the lads from Essex put paid to their hopes of lifting the famous old trophy for the first time since 2008. Meanwhile, you imagine Manchester City will be otherwise occupied in their pursuit of European glory and likewise Liverpool in their perennial domestic quest.
Obviously it is difficult to predict who will knock those sides out, but Pep and Jurgen will likely opt to field the kids until the latter stages, and therein lies a risk. That should leave Arsenal and Manchester United as the only real challengers on the Blues' road to glory, and - let's be honest - they just aren't very good. In a one-off game, you would bet on Chelsea to come out on top (see: Final; Europa League).
But why should the Carabao Cup - traditionally the whipping boy of the English cup competitions - take on such credence for Lampard and his side this year you ask? The answer(s) are quite simple.
Bar the meaningless Community Shield, the League Cup final is the earliest opportunity to lift a piece of silverware and deliver a statement of intent to your rivals. Manchester City did just that last season as they built towards a second consecutive Premier League title win, as did the Blues themselves back in 2015 under José Mourinho when club legends Juan Cuadrado and Loïc Rémy (pictured top) led them to victory. There is certainly something to be said for the momentum that can be gained from landing the trophy in late February.
Of course, you would not expect Chelsea to be challenging for the title this time around given their inconsistent start and the indefinite period of transition they are going through with a transfer ban hanging over them. However, should they find themselves between fifth and eight in the league table come February, a Carabao Cup win would certainly serve to secure Frank Lampard's position and vindicate his project and use of young players. Given Chelsea's predicament, it would be hard to complain about a cup win - Lampard's first no less - and European qualification come the end of the season - the reasons for which are detailed here.
What's more, a sixth League Cup win for the club would mean the continuation of their ridiculous streak of trophy-winning in the Roman Abramovich era - bar the barren seasons of 2007/08, 2010/11, 2013/14 and 2015/16. Trophies have gladly become part of the club's identity, and continuing that modern tradition will be key to maintaining their status as a European powerhouse. It will also serve to attract a higher calibre of player when the ban is finally lifted next summer.
The Blues get their League Cup campaign underway in a HUGE, MAMMOTH clash with the TITANS of Grimsby Town of the mighty League Two at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night, and I for one and well up for it. Up the Carabao, up the cup, let's go all the way, lads.