Good morning, Leeds. This is it.
Leeds United travel to Liverpool's famous Anfield today with a chance to create "once in a lifetime" memories for the traveling fans. Will they be positive ones? We'll find out tonight; the match starts at 7:45pm BT.
When the EFL Cup started, this tournament was merely a bump in the road on Leeds United's hopeful march toward promotion. The lads clearly thought the same on their trip to Fleetwood Town and came out flat as can be on that early August night, going down 1-0 to Uwe Rosler's Fishermen in the 13th minute.
August wasn't kind to Leeds United, and the Whites played poorly in Blue that night, but when Fleetwood parked the bus with most of the second half remaining, Leeds pushed for the equalizer and found it at the last, after a remarkable turn from eventual August POTM Marcus Antonsson in the 89th.
Marcus Antonsson v Fleetwood Town— #WALMOT (@WALMOT33) August 10, 2016
Leeds went on to win that opening match in penalties, with Rob Green saving the final shot to win it 5-4.
It was the start of an adventurous ride.
The late August second-round tilt came at luxurious Luton Town. There, Garry Monk, hoping to change his relegation-flirting side's fate and hopefully save his job, chose an entirely new starting XI from the previous weekend's win at Sheffield Wednesday, a move that didn't fit with his preaching of "momentum" before the match. The fans were concerned, but another new Swede, Pontus Jansson, made his debut that night. Little did we know how important he'd become to Leeds in the coming months.
This match wasn't comfortable either, as Leeds ended up winning 1-0 off the foot of Charlie Taylor's replacement, Tyler Denton, but the Whites got the result they needed and moved on thanks to this beauty:
Next up, a familiar foe awaited us in round three: Blackburn Rovers.
On the previous Tuesday, September 13, Leeds topped Blackburn 2-1 at Elland Road in a league match. As fate would have it, the Whites would repeat the feat, topping Blackburn at Elland Road 1-0 on Tuesday, September 20 to move on to the fourth round. The match was (again) nothing to write home about, with clear-cut chances few, but a late substitution of Chris Wood tipped the balance of the match, as he awkwardly headed home the game's lone goal on the rebound:
The win was Leeds' second clean sheet in a row as stalwart defence became a theme throughout September and October. We allowed less than a goal per match in the six matches between EFL Cup tilts, and rocketed up the table from the relegation zone to the top ten.
And then we faced Norwich.
Ben Mallis made the case before the fourth round tie that "Norwich is the rival we need," and the most exciting match in years solidified that case on the 25th of October. After going down early to an Alex Pritchard goal in the 14th, Marcus Antonsson tied the game at 1 just before half-time. Leeds fought their hearts out in the second half, pressuring Norwich at every opportunity, but they came away unable to find the winning goal and the game went to extra time 1-1.
Just before the whistle though, Lewie Coyle went down injured in the box and was unable to return. Out of subs, Garry Monk was forced to look on at a side playing with 10 men for 30 extra minutes. Surely, the fight was over. Norwich scored in the 99th minute to take the lead 1-2, and Leeds fans hung their heads, knowing their team had fought well.
The Whites didn't give up, and the Canaries got a bit too comfortable. In the 109th minute, after Leeds had turned the tables and began to pressure once again, Chris Wood snuck in behind the Norwich defence on a counter and powered one past John Ruddy. Leeds fans rejoiced, and the game was tied at 2:
I really didn't mean to recap all four matches, sorry about that, I've just loved this run so much. I'll wrap it up here quickly now.
The Whites would win on penalties after clutch saves from Marco Silvestri and a beautiful final shot from young Ronaldo Vieira, moving on to the quarterfinals of the EFL Cup, and the draw the next night would pit them against Liverpool FC.
And so, again, after another successful month has brought us up to fifth in the Championship table... here we are, in the EFL Cup Quarterfinal at Anfield.
We've had great coverage of the buildup to this EFL Cup tie from several contributors here at Through It All Together, so rather than get into what it all means again, I'll refer you to the three articles below:
Anthony Linley's Preview: A Tough Task Awaits
"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 in 1969?"
Ben Mallis' Preview: A Re-kindled Relationship
"Viduka was the centre of my football universe as a child and his defining moment came against Tuesday’s opponent. For 90 minute of football he owned the Reds, and Leeds had seized back control of a rivalry that predates my existence. See, Leeds-Liverpool isn’t just another game. It’s a massive big deal."
and James Mahoney's Preview: A Past, Present, and (hopefully) Future Fixture
"At Elland Road on the 25th of October, I witnessed a Leeds team full of drive and determination not to be beaten. If the Leeds players can replicate that on Tuesday, then Liverpool won’t know what’s hit them. And maybe, just maybe, a trip to Wembley might come a little earlier than we originally planned."
We'll also have all the information that comes out today available on our Twitter account and updated here in this "game thread," something we do for every match day throughout the season.
If this is your first time reading an article at Through It All Together, welcome to the site. Sign up for an account below to leave comments, and find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram too. Below, our game thread has the info you need for the day's game, followed by predictions, a poll, and our comments section.
Here's an update... lineups are out, and Leeds are running with Doukara as the lone man up top. Wood, Antonsson, Green, and Ayling on the bench, Pontus Jansson at home sick. Alright.
Again, thanks for reading. Here we go.
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 starting XI
Silvestri, Berardi, Cooper, Bartley, Taylor, Vieira, O’Kane, Sacko, Dallas, Roofe, Doukara
Subs: Green, Ayling, Grimes, Phillips, Mowatt, Wood, Antonsson
Liverpool’s starting XI
Mignolet, Alexander-Arnold, Lucas, Klavan, Moreno, Stewart, Wijnaldum, Can, Ejaria, Mane, Origi
Subs: Karius, Clyne, Lovren, Milner, Henderson, Grujic, Woodburn
Johnny Wakefield: 1-2, Leeds. Yeah, I know it's 11/1 odds. I can read that. Hell, I typed it. But I have to hope that Leeds United will play their hearts out for Garry Monk and the traveling support at Anfield, and the Reds look past the EFL Cup toward their potential Premiership title. They're playing so well in the league, and they're facing some injuries, so maybe we get their third-stringers tomorrow... and we punch them in the teeth. Goals from Doukara and Wood. MOT
Anthony Linley: 0-0, Leeds through on PKs: I’ll call for a repeat of 1969. These things happen every 47 years or so, so it’s well overdue.
Matt Robinson: 0-1, Leeds through to the semifinals. Chris Wood as a super sub, scoring in the 85th minute.
Anatoliy Ivantchouk: 3-1, Liverpool. Klopp may not use a full-strength squad, but even his second choice players will know the pressing system he likes and will have quality. Leeds may get a goal early to wake the sleeping giants, but then Jurgen will make sure his team plays for the win. This is not Newcastle, this is not the Championship. The moment will be too big for Leeds.
Ben Mallis: 3-0, Liverpool. Anatoliy put it perfectly. This is not a sleepy afternoon against Rotherham and a half empty stadium. This is Anfield, and we are playing an elite football side. Klopp resting his stars may keep it closer than my scoreline, but Leeds just aren’t good enough to pull off this miracle.
James Mahoney: 1-2, Leeds. I think we will score twice in the first 30 minutes and shock Liverpool. The Liverpool players will then react and pile on the pressure for the rest of the game. They will score around the 80 minute mark and make it a nervy last 10 minutes. However, we will hold on for a memorable victory. MOT
Joshua Gilbert: 2-2, Leeds win 4-3 on penalties. The inexperience of Liverpool's starting XI will be their downfall as they will struggle to last a full 120 minutes, whereas Leeds have been in this situation before and will prevail with their sheer ability to take on any daunting task that is ahead of them.
Sean Ryan: 3-4, Leeds United. Need I say more? Think back to a sunny day in Elland Road and a certain Aussie.
So that's how we're feeling... what about you? Again, the comments are open, and our Twitter poll is active up until game time. Have a great night, Leeds fans. Here's hoping it's a great morning tomorrow too. MOT.