Liverpool warmed up for their trip to Wembley for Sunday’s Carling Cup final in emphatic style as they put Championship side Brighton to the sword 6–1 in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Sunday. The sides had already met in the Carling Cup earlier this season, with Liverpool winning 2–1. But Liverpool looked greedy for another trip to Wembley by brushing Brighton aside and eyeing up a home tie against Stoke City in the FA Cup quarterfinal.
Kenny Dalglish fielded a strong team against Brighton with Jamie Carragher coming back into the side alongside Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez, and Andy Carroll. He showed that he was not going to take Gus Poyet’s Brighton team lightly.
Liverpool got off to a great start with Martin Skrtel heading home Gerrard’s corner within the first five minutes, but the visitors responded with LuaLua blasting a 25-yard free-kick past Pepe Reina. Liverpool regained the lead seconds before half-time after Liam Bridcutt deflected a goal line clearance into his own net from a Glen Johnson header.
Liverpool was buoyed going into the second half with the lead, and they added another in the 57th minute when Carroll fired home a Downing cutback pass with his left foot. Liverpool made it 4–1 when the unlucky Bridcutt scored his second own goal when trying to keep out a Gerrard effort.
Amazingly Liverpool’s fifth goal came from another Brighton player when Liam Dunk tried to clear after some ball juggling, only to send it over his own goal line.
Suarez missed a late penalty after Dirk Kuyt had been brought down, but the controversial striker was not to be denied as he headed in a sixth goal for the home side in the 85th minute. This was Liverpool’s biggest win of the season and one that will certainly boost their confidence with important games coming up.
Turning the Corner
After the match Dalglish showed how pleased he was with his team’s goals tally when he said, courtesy of Liverpool FC TV, “Someone said we had 15 attempts on target. We’ve said we’d like to get our conversion rate up and today that’s not a bad return.”
Liverpool have had a frustrating season in front of goal, as they have created numerous chances in games without converting them, leaving them with far too many draws at home. A number of new faces were added to the squad this season and it has taken time for the side to gel. So maybe now Liverpool is starting to click.
Expectations have been high at Liverpool since the return of the legendary “King” Kenny Dalglish to management. Many people were expecting Liverpool to win the Premiership. Clearly that will not happen this season, but to get to their first final in five years, to book a place in the last eight of the FA Cup, and be right in the thick of things in the race for a top four place, is very promising for Liverpool right now.
Supporters will want silverware this season after being starved of trophies for too long. But the main priority for Liverpool Football Club has to be finishing in the top four and claiming a Champion’s League place.
The money that Champion’s League football generates is invaluable, but also the quality of players one can attract is far greater. So whatever happens in the cup competitions you can be sure Liverpool’s American owners will be more concerned with Liverpool’s league place.
Carling Cup Final
The achievement of reaching the Carling Cup final at Wembley has given everyone connected with Liverpool a massive lift, especially with this being the Reds’ first visit to the “new Wembley.”
It has been a difficult path to Wembley, having been drawn away in every round of the competition and beating quality opposition in the process (Stoke, Chelsea, Manchester City).
Championship side Cardiff will provide the opposition in the final and Liverpool will have to be at their best to avoid an upset. Former Glasgow Rangers striker Kenny Miller will be a major threat to Liverpool as he has been in good goal scoring form.
Welshman Craig Bellamy will be looking to play against his old side and has the added incentive of facing a Wales-based team. It is critical for Liverpool to win this final to boost the remainder of their season and give them that winning mentality.
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