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  1. The squad goes into this one after the Premier League’s 2-week winter break. We’ve been working off the bare bones in recent weeks and have done very well considering. Jota’s found some form. Fab’s turned into a goal machine. The team will be at Wembley for the League Cup final at the end of February. As I mentioned in the last match thread, we’ve had a Sunday-Thursday-Sunday schedule for the past month now. It’s the sort of thing teams in the Europa League have to deal with, and for us the ‘normal’ schedule doesn’t start until we take on Inter in the Champions League. Work rate. Heart. Intensity. Tenacity. Effervescence. Cleverness. Luck. Incision. Fear of God up ‘em. Flair. Speed. Organisation. Firepower. Drive. Offensive strength. Vim. Endeavour. Recharged batteries. I don’t ask for much. The two sides have faced each other in the league on 4 occasions over the past decade, and the Reds have dominated and pretty much scored at will. Before that, the last meeting had been the 2012 League Cup final where a lacklustre display needed a penalty shoot out to settle it. Stevie’s cousin Anthony missed the key spot kick to give Liverpool their record 8th League Cup trophy. The teams have met at Anfield in the FA Cup before, but you have to go back to the 3rd Round on 11th January 1930. Liverpool lost that tie 2-1 thanks to a Len Davies double for the Bluebirds, scored after Liverpool had taken the lead through Archie McPherson (not the commentator bloke!). It won’t surprise you to learn that I can’t find clips of this one. A cup tie at Anfield that Liverpool did win against Cardiff came in the 4th Round of the League Cup in October 2007. The visitors had ex-Red Fowler up front, alongside Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. The two were well into their 30s but experience-wise were as strong an attacking pair as any in the second tier. Rafa had selected a line-up that included future persona non grata Itandje in goal, Hobbs in defence and Leto on the left wing. None of them went on to have stellar careers, although Leto briefly tore it up with Panathinaikos in the Greek League. Liverpool took the lead in the second half when Stevie teed up Nabil El Zhar (remember him?) to hammer a 30-yarder into the net at the Kop end. It was a goal worthy of the captain himself. 20 minutes later, sloppy defending allowed Cardiff’s Darren Purse to bundle in an equaliser. He was a bit of a cocky twat was Purse, and he was the Birmingham player who equalised on 90 minutes from the penalty spot in our first visit to Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium for 2001’s League Cup final. That jolt to the system saw Stevie and Yossi immediately steam up the other end, combining down the left for the Israeli international to square the ball for the captain to drive the ball through the legs of the Cardiff goalkeeper. The manager had rested the likes of Nando and Dirk for this one, and the players saw out the rest of the game to advance to the next round. 31st October 2007 saw Ridley Scott’s American Gangster atop the US box office. Denzel Washington is on less showy form as a Harlem crime lord, with Russell Crowe as the lawman tasked with bringing his operation down. Of course there's more to it than that but the basic premise remains. It’s a slick film in its own right, but it has some definite parallels with Michael Mann’s Heat which came out a little over a decade earlier, Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables which is 20 years older, and even Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can. And that's before you get to the nods to other classic crime thrillers. There are bits reminiscent of both Serpico and LA Confidential for example. Considering their status at the time, the two leads are far more understated in this one than you might expect, and I think it works for the story a lot better as a result. While it’s hard to know for sure, I think Jurgen will put out a mixture of youth and experience again for this one. The likes of Gomez and Kostas need games to gain some rhythm, Naby might be back in time for this one, Thiago, Harvey and possibly Div might make returns to the squad, and Kaide deserves a chance to stake another claim for a starting spot. Whatever the selection, the mantra has always got to be the same. Take it seriously, be professional, do all the right things, avoid complacency and do whatever it takes to get through to the next round.
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