For a club that is one of the most successful in the history of English football, it is relatively surprising to note that the last time Liverpool added silverware to their crowded trophy cabinet was 68 months ago. It was back in May 2006 that the Reds last claimed the top prize in a competition, as influential skipper Steven Gerrard inspired the Merseyside club to an FA Cup final penalty shootout victory over a spirited West Ham United side. That Liverpool’s upcoming Carling Cup final opponents, Championship outfit Cardiff City, have reached a domestic final more recently than the Reds (FA Cup final, 2008), gives a good indication that all has not been well at Anfield over the past half-decade.
The Reds’ key aim for this season was to climb back into the top-four in the league and consequently secure a place among Europe’s elite once again. Even though they currently find themselves four points off the pace, that goal can still be achieved. Success in the Carling Cup could give Liverpool the perfect confidence boost for the remainder of the campaign as they attempt to leapfrog Newcastle, Chelsea and Arsenal into fourth spot.
Midfield maestro Gerrard admitted that a cup win would help to provide the team with some welcome momentum as the season comes to a close. He told liverpoolfc.tv : “I honestly believe winning this cup will be the catalyst for a successful period for the club. It will certainly give us the belief and confidence to deliver more. That’s what happened back in 2001. We picked up the League Cup and then went on win the treble. It gave us the confidence to go and win more trophies. Momentum builds and it gives everyone a taste of success.”
That taste of success has already been experienced by the likes of Gerrard, Jose Reina and Jamie Carragher, who all played in the FA Cup final of 2006. However, for the rest of the Reds’ squad, the feeling of lifting a trophy in a Liverpool shirt would be a new experience. Sunday’s final will also give much-maligned players Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing a chance to become heroes.
But Cardiff will be no pushovers and the Welsh side will be hoping to upset the odds at Wembley, just as underdogs Birmingham City did when they beat favourites Arsenal in the competition last term. That defeat proved to be a pivotal moment in the Gunners’ season and crushed their morale. Liverpool cannot afford to make that mistake if they are to end their long wait for a trophy.
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