If only Continental Cup it can produce encounters like this more often. It’s a tournament often synonymous with boring matches that jump over teams that do little more than hurdles to get them back into league football, but Sunday’s final showed what this trophy can do.

chelseaand especially Arsenalapproached respectfully and entertained the 19,010 crowd with an afternoon of football that would not seem out of place at the top of the Women’s Super League.

Strong squads took the field, effort was made and the most stylish football this season was displayed. Heralded unbridled joy for Arsenal When I was dancing with Neil Diamond and in the locker room with Ian Wright – for the first time in a long time – it felt like the League Cup had meaning.

It doesn’t take long for the holes in that fairy tale to show up. Let’s take the obvious: This is the final of a cup competition, but each of the contestants was in the unique position of having to win only two games to reach such a stage.

It is an overwhelmingly helping hand for those in the top tiers of the league. For those competing in the Champions League, entry comes in the quarterfinals, avoiding the early season difficulties and fixture jams caused by the group stages.

Are you already successful? Enjoy the advantage given to you. Are you racing to compete with the top ones? Hard luck.

The inclusion of a group stage in itself causes problems. In an injury-stricken league – look no further than Arsenal absent Vivianne Miedema and Beth Mead for proof of such a fact – additional matches only increase the calendar’s pay for players.

The pandemic has squeezed an already difficult calendar into an anxiety-filled one. For those competing in the Olympics in 2021, they’re then doomed to summers of one European Championship, World Cup, Olympics, and another Euro before any summer break comes back. This means that some players won’t have a real end-of-season break until 2025.

This, predictably, leads to weakened teams being a consistent feature, as in the men’s game. Risking the highest caliber players for a tournament that often means little can hurt your league hopes, and the rewards of league success come first.

Vivianne Miedema suffered a serious injury in mid-December.

(Getty Images)

Such parties in previous rounds, coupled with midweek nights broadcast only through the FA’s own streaming service, only advance the devaluation of the tournament. Bullets can often be little more than a footnote in a team’s record, rather than a task to be taken seriously.

Perhaps this was one of the most important statistics shared just in time for the final, which started to feel hollow: Arsenal won the match six times and two-thirds of the titles were shared between them. The other third? This is completely occupied by Manchester City, the other of WSL’s dominant trio.

While comparisons between the men’s and women’s match can be cliché and add little to proper analysis, the League Cup remains capable of unleashing magical moments for those outside of the upper echelons who may find themselves surrendered to their usual league status. in men’s football.

Take, for example, Newcastle’s travel to this season’s finale. The North East marched in droves to the capital after rushing to the final established nights that their supporters would cherish for years. Weakened in the league, Southampton beat Manchester City, giving a positive moment to an otherwise bad campaign.

For those at the bottom of the pyramid, the capacity to create magic is even deeper: look at Lincoln City or Gillingham’s run into the last 16.

But this cannot be in the female format. If a team doesn’t work hard enough to progress through a long group stage, only the top two tiers compete for the title, while individual giant kills don’t matter.

Even West Ham’s progress to the semi-finals this year was met with little more than indifference by many. They were beaten 7-0 by Chelsea at that stage, a result many expected.

(FA via Getty Images)

So what can be done to fix the Cup’s problems and ultimately make it a fit-for-purpose tournament? In 2019, Chelsea manager Emma Hayes suggested shelving the entire tournament, but recently their allegiance seems to have changed as she aimed to move the final to Wembley last week.

Moving away from small spaces can help boost the competition’s reputation – fixtures at Wembley continue to hold a certain appeal – but that may not be enough to change his stance.

With the exception of the EFL Trophy, group stages are rare in local cup competitions. Such a great advantage for the best also does little in the way of helping its notoriety.

Its midweek anonymity rather than a weekend show sees its importance waning, as does the lack of regular broadcasts.

Solutions to the Women’s League Cup problems are varied, but there is consensus that change is necessary. After all, cup competitions are supposed to be the highlight of the game, not an obscurity.