In 1969, we had the Apollo moon landings and astronaut Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind.” We had Woodstock too, and in Liverpool, the Beatles released their Abbey Road album. But other events in Liverpool that same year caught our eye. In 1969, Leeds United clinched their first ever League Division 1 title in front of a packed Anfield crowd.
After the final whistle the Don ordered his Captain, Billy Bremner, to go and applaud the most Famous Kop of them all. As Bremner slowly led his wary troops towards the Anfield Kop, not knowing what to expect, silence descended. Instead of hurling missiles and abuse, the 27000 Kop regulars greeted Leeds with sporting respect.
Leeds United defender, Paul Reaney, describes what happened:
“Billy looked at him [Revie] as if he was joking, but we did what we were told and walked in a row to the 18-yard line. It was quiet for a few moments but after a while the Kop started chanting ‘Champions, Champions.’”
Liverpool were United’s nearest challengers and needed a victory that night to secure their own league title. Although bitter rivals that year, Liverpool’s fans were magnanimous in their salute of the newly crowned League Champions. The entire Anfield Kop applauded and sang in chorus “Champions” appreciating the feat the Whites had pulled off in their own back yard. Leeds needed just one point and held off Liverpool’s relentless attacks to secure the necessary nil-nil draw.
Building for the future
On Tuesday night, Leeds visit Anfield in entirely different circumstances, the EFL Cup Quarterfinals as lower league opposition facing a resurgent Liverpool squad sitting second in the Premiership. But can the Whites pull off a feat more amazing than that famous night?
United are going through another rebuilding phase, yet their total summer spending is eclipsed tenfold on just one player that Jurgen Klopp has brought in, Sado Mane (£36 million). We have a long way to go until there’s a level playing field, but the Leeds team of today are definitely looking to the future and not living on past glories.
Garry Monk is trying to mould his young squad into a promotion contending team. True to his word, he’s given debuts to academy players and prefers to utilise the enthusiasm and energy of youth in Phillips and Vieira rather than the more experienced midfielders of Diagouraga and Murphy.
The re-building, though, will not happen overnight, and this game may have come too early for Monk’s men. Liverpool have not lost at Anfield this season and what lies ahead is a daunting task.
Leeds’ Best Bet
I don’t often hope for a nil-nil result, but unless the gods are with us, then it’s our best bet. Much has been said about Klopp’s Liverpool side, who are 2nd in the Premiership table, but the truth is he has yet to actually win anything.
After their 1969 salute to Leeds, I would not begrudge the Reds the Premiership crown this season, stopping the likes of the Manchester clubs and Chelsea winning it in the process. However, the EFL Cup may represent Liverpool’s best bet of silverware and a trip to Wembley this season. I expect Leeds to face a strong Liverpool line up and a similar onslaught that Revie’s boys faced that night in 1969, without the talent of 1969 to weather the storm.
What we must do on the pitch
History shows that in cup games, “anything can happen” and Liverpool are no exception to that, famously being knocked out of the EFL Cup by Northampton in 2010. Realistically, chances will be few and far between. We will need to convert any chances carved out into goals.
Against Newcastle, the Whites had 10 corners and 11 free kicks, yet had only 4 shots on target. We need to improve on our set pieces on the night and convert any rare opportunities we receive into an actual tally.
While clearly the focus remains on promotion places, I would guard against too many changes. If the game plan is to hope for extra time and penalties, then Silvestri is one change I would make after his heroics against Norwich in the last round, and he has likely earned the nod.
Berardi and Jansson are back in contention, but Hernandez and Bridcutt will miss this one.
For Liverpool, Courthino suffered a dislocated ankle on Saturday, and Firmino and Sturridge are also likely to miss. We’ll see how many regulars Klopp decides to rest.
In their last five, Liverpool have lost zero, drawn once, and won four. Leeds have lost once, and won four as well.
At Anfield, Liverpool have won 33 games, Leeds only 7, with 11 drawn.
Leeds United player to watch
Chris Wood. It has to be him. I’ll be looking for him to lead the line and provide an outlet for the expected young midfield. After scoring his 12th of the season against Rotherham, he’s now scored 4 in 5. It will be interesting to see how he stacks up against Premiership defenders.
Liverpool player to watch
With Firmino and Sturridge both out, Divock Origi is sure to feature. The 21 year old Belgian international has been a surprise first team regular at Liverpool this season making 10 appearances. He will prove the toughest test of the season for our beloved back line.
Leeds United at Liverpool FC
EFL Cup Round Four
Sky Sports, beIN Sports, LUTV, BBC Radio Leeds, International Streams
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
11:45am PT / 2:45pm ET / 7:45pm BT
Leeds United’s predicted XI
Silvestri, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Taylor, O’Kane, Phillips, Sacko, Doukara, Roofe, Wood
Liverpool’s predicted starting XI
Mignolet, Alexander-Arnold, Klavan, Lucas, Moreno, Stewart, Ejaria, Grujic, Wijnaldum, Lalana, Origi
I’ll call for a repeat of 1969: 0-0. Leeds to go through on penalties. These things happen every 47 years or so, so it’s well overdue.