It’s been more than five years since the last time Liverpool visited Elland Road and they’ll be welcomed back by a full house for our third round League Cup tie. Few will be unaware of the history between the two clubs. Once upon a time we competed as arguably the two best sides in Europe, but whilst we plummeted to the depths of third division football, Liverpool continued to take the continent by storm picking up their fifth European Cup in 2005 and reaching a seventh final in 2007.

Team news
It’s doubtful Liverpool will risk too many key players for a League Cup clash. The club will be competing on four fronts this season as they look to add to their impressive collection of silverware, so you shouldn’t expect to see the likes of Steven Gerrard or Fernando Torres. That doesn’t mean Rafa Benitez isn’t taking the competition seriously. He’s already admitted he would like to reach the final again and right the wrongs of 2005, when a Steven Gerrard own goal cost them their eighth League Cup title.

Leeds meanwhile are unlikely to change too many faces from the side that beat Gillingham 4-1 on Saturday. If there are any changes, they’ll likely be in defence where Richard Naylor could make a welcomed return. Liverpool fan, Andy Robinson has told how he’d love to get on the pitch for the tie, but is unlikely to get anything more than a place on the subs bench.

Head to head
The last time Liverpool played at Elland Road was in our relegation season of 2003-04. The scoring was opened by Harry Kewell, who had now moved to Anfield. Eirik Bakke equalised a few minutes later though, before Mark Viduka fired us infront. Baros equalised for Liverpool just before halftime and the match finished 2-2.

In a season where we were struggling and the squad was being sold off to the highest bidder, the reverse fixture saw us slump to a 3-1 defeat. Infact, you have to go back all the way to the 2000/01 season to find the last time we beat Liverpool. That season, we beat them both home and away as Mark Viduka fired four past them at Elland Road, in what remains one of my favourite matches, and Rio Ferdinand and Lee Bowyer scored to give us a 2-1 victory at Anfield.

Overall, our record against Liverpool isn’t great. Of the 113 fixtures between the two sides, Leeds have won 27, drawing 30 and losing 56.

The League Cup
Liverpool have won the League Cup seven times, which is more than any other team. The last time they won it was at The Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, when they beat Manchester United 2-0 with goals from Steven Gerrard and Michael Owen.

Leeds have won the competition just once in 1968. Terry Cooper’s goal was enough to see Arsenal off and give Don Revie his first major trophy. Howard Wilkinson guided us to the final once more in 1996, but Leeds were beaten 3-0 by Aston Villa.

The managers
Simon Grayson banned the team from talking about the fixture right until the final whistle went at Gillingham. He admits that gaining promotion from League One is the priority, but has now turned his attention to Liverpool looking for a Premiership scalp to add to his impressive record at Elland Road. Speaking after the Saturday’s win he said;

“Being top of the league gives us a boost going into Tuesday’s game and a platform for the rest of the season. We will be judged on where we finish,

“They had to focus on beating Gillingham because the league is their bread and butter and they showed the right attitude.

“We are playing one of the best teams in the world on Tuesday but we will approach the game with a lot of confidence and belief.”

Meanwhile, Rafa Benitez told Sky Sports that he’s been watching DVD’s of Leeds and knows the fans will be right behind us.

“I believe the game will be a sell-out, and it is a surprise to me that Leeds find themselves in League One these days,

“Leeds will be difficult, we know they are a big club and we respect their history.

“I have been watching DVDs of their games and it is clear that their supporters are very important to them. They back their team all the time and make it tough for their opponents.

“Those fans are amazing, such loyalty and support, and that has been very apparent to me in watching tapes from last season.”

Rafa also added that “We know it will be tough. It is a massive club despite the division they are in.

 “I have no doubts that this will be a very difficult match. They have quality and they are a big club with great traditions.

“They will want to win this one because of the situation they find themselves in.”

Nice to know we haven’t been forgotten!

Can we win?
Whilst the realist in me isn’t convinced, the Leeds fan says ‘of course we can.’ Elland Road is a tough place to play for any team because of the crowd. Even with 7,000 Scousers cheering Liverpool on, they’ll still have to contend with 33,000 Leeds fans, which isn’t going to be easy for an inexperienced side (assuming that’s what they play). I guess the other thing in our favour is that we have nothing to lose. Win, lose or draw, the game will be a good money spinner for us and none of us expect to win the League Cup so being knocked out of it isn’t the end of the world.

Whatever happens, it should be a good night with an electric atmosphere. On and on…

  • Grumpy Older Man

    MK Dons is a bigger game in terms of maintaining momentum. Its already clear Grayson doesn’t do “resting” but in my book tonight is a game for Casper, Parker, Ludo, Naylor, Killa, Fat Scouse, Grella and even Tresor to get run-outs.

  • Stu H

    Normally I’d agree with some rotation for the League Cup, but with tonight being such a big occasion (despite Liverpool likely sending down their second team), Grayson should pick his strongest side as a reward for their early season performances.
    I wouldn’t risk anyone who wasn’t 100%, but resting a player for this game wouldn’t help morale.
    My team…Higgs, Crowe, Michalik, Kisnorbo, Hughes, Snodgrass, Howson, Doyle, Johnson, Becchio, Beckford.
    Subs…Ankergren, Naylor, Prutton, Kilkenny, Robinson, Grella, Kandol.

    • Andy (Rotherham)

      I agree with Stu H above – the players who currently have the shirt should retain the shirt – they have played well and deserve to have a run out against Liverpool.
      Come on Leeds

  • Daddy Pig

    I agree with Grumpy above that this game is of secondary concern to the MK Dons, and going a bit further, I’m finding some of the hype around this match a little embarassing… Seriously, it’s only been 5 years since we played them at least twice year. It’s hardly a new experience for us fans. Though goodness knows who these extra 10,000+ are who’ve suddenly rediscovered that they’re Leeds fans in the last few weeks and will be polishing up their Top Man / Strongbow replica shirts.

    But… I also think the players should be allowed to play the biggest game in their career. I think it would upset the morale of a few players if they were told they couldn’t play in a televised game against a major name in English football.

    • TSS

      I think the regulars are looking forward to a full house and a great atmosphere. Hopefully some of the extra 10,000-15,000 that are there tonight will remember what they’re missing and come back more often.

  • Timmo

    I still think the English trophy’s are important. Put out a strong team but take no risks. Now if they’d put the game on the telly here in the States, instead of Scum and Wolves I’d be happy.

  • King Kenny

    Good article very fair and accurate. As a Red I say to Leeds hurry up back into the prem – its where you belong. You are a massive club with a great history.

    We can then hate them mancs together!!!

  • dave shack

    if we beat one of our most respected rivals tonight, it will give us so much confidence ahead of a vital game at milton keynes which wont be easy