UP FOR THE CUP
Liverpool will start playing fixtures in the third round of the league cup this week. This year, the “Capital One Cup” has seen some interesting results already, including when Manchester United got knocked out of the competition, after being beaten 4-0 by MK Dons in the second round. I think most Liverpool fans will be grateful to the Dons for that, it’s one less major rival we have to defeat on our way to the League Cup Final and knowing we won’t face Man United in the competition gives us the confidence to go all the way there and win it.
Middlesbrough have had some success in the league cup before, in both 1997 and 1998 they faced and defeated Liverpool on their way to the League Cup Final. These successful squads back in the late 90s boasted players such as World Cup stars Juninho, Emerson, Fabrizio Ravanelli, Mark Schwarzer and even Paul Gascoigne, although they only became runners-up in these League Cup Finals, getting beaten by both Leicester and Chelsea.
Middlesbrough did, however eventually win their first League Cup Final in 2004, with the winning goal of the game being scored by former Liverpool player Bolo Zenden. Other Liverpool players Brad Jones, who was named as the substitute goalkeeper and Stewart Downing also appeared on the bench, but both were not used by the manager in the Final. Mark Schwarzer, who had appeared in all three finals, finally got his League Cup Winners medal.
Middlesbrough’s squad has changed dramatically since 2004 however, and the only former Liverpool player we’re likely to see when we face them is Daniel Ayala, who made just 5 appearances for the Liverpool (1st team) between 2009 and 2011.
Ayala rose through the Liverpool youth team to make his way into the first team eventually, but was mostly unused by then manager Rafa Benitez, who had better, more experienced players to choose in the same position that Ayala played. It was only when Martin Skrtel was injured that he was chosen and got to make his full debut at last. It was, however, obvious he was never going to be a regular first team starter for Liverpool and eventually, he moved on to other clubs with loan spells at Hull City and Derby County before making a permanent transfer to Norwich City for around £800, 000. After playing for Norwich he spent some time at Nottingham Forest and then make his way to Middlesbrough and has been there since 2013, scoring 4 goals for the club in just 20 appearances.
Rickie Lambert is likely to start for Liverpool as Daniel Sturridge is currently out injured (although he’s recovering faster than expected). So he may be partnering Mario Balotelli, Raheem Sterling, Coutinho, or even Adam Lallana in the forward position, depending on the formation Brendan Rodgers chooses to play. It will be a fine opportunity for Lambert to get another goal, show the home fans what he can do at Anfield and put confidence in us that he would even be worthy of being chosen for Champions League games in the near future. SILENCE THOSE CRITICS, Rickie!
Liverpool fans should relish this competition; we can put out a side that has been built to withstand the best teams in the Champions League. The standard we can show the teams in this cup is going to be high and I have faith in my manager to use all the available players he has and not underestimate this side.
As long as Brendan Rodgers does not think that he doesn’t need to put a “full strength” side out, we should beat Middlesbrough and progress in this competition. It would be nice to see Mario Balotelli score in the league cup as he has got one goal in the Champions League already and this should be an easier challenge for him. Our oppositions last victory at Anfield came 25 games ago in 1976. They haven’t beaten us at our own ground since the 70s. Do you really think it will happen for them now, after all that time beating unbeaten reds? I don’t.
Kickoff for this game will be Tuesday 23rd September at 7:45 PM (GMT).
I walk on, with hope in my heart. and YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE, reds!
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so i was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.
I’m a die hard Liverpool fan (only supported ONE club in my whole life, Liverpool) and one of the most dedicated fans you’ll ever meet.