Liverpool Club Focus – Calls for calm as Reds look to continue cup form

Liverpool booked their place into the League Cup Final for the first time since 2005 as Kenny Dalglish’s men secured a 2-2 home draw against Manchester City to win the tie 3-2 on aggregate. The Anfield outfit will now have to overcome Championship side Cardiff City next month, in what will be the Reds’ first cup final at Wembley for 16 years.

There have been two striking features about Liverpool’s impressive run. The first is how they have been pitted away from home in every single round, except for the second-leg against City. Secondly, this has been no easy run. The draws have not been kind. Dalglish’s side have had to face the likes of Stoke, Chelsea and City on their way to Wembley. Even the trip to Brighton in the third round was a tricky one given that they were sitting at the top end of the Championship at the time. Given how tough their schedule has been, many would agree that the Reds deserve their place in the final.

Liverpool have treated this competition with great respect under the current manager. The Reds entered the race back in the second round, due to their lack of involvement in Europe. But even at that stage, against League One side Exeter, Dalglish selected the likes of Jose Reina, Martin Skrtel, Maxi Rodriguez, Charlie Adam and Luis Suarez in his starting line-up. At Brighton, Suarez, Dirk Kuyt, Craig Bellamy, Lucas Leiva and even Steven Gerrard all featured. Liverpool have put out a strong side at every stage of the competition this season, unlike last term where Roy Hodgson handed game time to the likes of Tom Ince, Nathan Eccleston and Daniel Pacheco against League Two’s Northampton and the Reds duly crashed out in the third round.

But the Merseysiders will now have to put that cup final to the back of their minds as Manchester United are set to visit Anfield in the FA Cup fourth round tie on Saturday. At the best of times, this is the greatest rivalry in football, but there will be extra heat on the occasion given the recent race row between Patrice Evra and Kop hero Suarez. Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup by the Red Devils at the third round stage last season and the Reds will be looking for revenge as they aim to repeat their League Cup run in this competition.

The atmosphere promises to be electric and skipper Gerrard is hoping that the fixture will be remembered for the football. He said: “Liverpool and Manchester United is a massive rivalry and of course there is going to be stuff in the papers and banter between fans, but it would be fantastic if after the weekend it is remembered for being a top game and obviously, from our point of view, a Liverpool win. We don’t want any front page stories from this game or any stories besides a football match between two top sides.”

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