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League Cup Quarters, Forgotten Triumphs, and Other Friday Notes

gerrard liverpool penalty madrid

Luis Suarez doesn't suck any more, though if you follow his press clippings he's probably still a diving cheat or worse. And Liverpool can score again. Or at least Suarez can. Which will be important when the club faces off against you know who and some club or other that doesn't really matter except for the fact that he just happens to manage them on Saturday afternoon. That, however, is for later. For now, here's what's being talked about from a Liverpool point of view…

* With Liverpool defeating Stoke at the Britannia on Wednesday in the League Cup, the quarter-finals await. The matches themselves won't come around until the end of November, but this Saturday before the next round of league games kick off will see the draw for the club's next opponent. Unlike in European competitions, the quarter-final draw in the League Cup doesn't set the final two elimination rounds, and so should Liverpool make it through the next round they won't discover their semi-final opponent until after the next set of fixtures.

As for who they might face, Arsenal, Chelsea, City, and United all join Liverpool as the big guns in one of the most competitive quarter-finals in recent memory, and no matter how the drawing goes on Saturday at least two of those clubs will be paired off—with at least one guaranteed to go home empty handed from the next round. Joining the heavy hitters from the Premier League is Blackburn, currently adrift in twentieth, with Championship sides Cardiff City and Crystal Palace rounding things out. Palace currently sit in fourth there, with Cardiff three points behind in ninth.

No matter how the draw shakes out, a prestige pairing or two seems inevitable, with plenty of possibilities for the press to salivate over in the meantime—like a chance for United's redemption against rival City or a pairing of London powers Chelsea and Arsenal. Or, of course, if you're a Liverpool fan and feeling pessimistic, there's always the possibility of a visit to Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge, or perhaps a double header against City with Liverpool set to host the newly rich Manchester side immediately before the next round. If it does end up being a trip to City for Liverpool while United host one of the three lowest ranked opponents it will be hard not to cast a dubious glance at the FA's supposedly random drawings. Realistically, though, if one were in the mood to suggest conspiracies, then given the names involved there are just as many attractive matches to be engineered by the FA that don't involve Liverpool as ones that do. In any case, after playing out the League Cup on the road so far, it would be nice to see Liverpool at Anfield no matter who they're matched up against.

* At least he's not as bad at it as Wayne Rooney. Still, when looking at people who have taken at least ten of them, Steven Gerrard and his groin rank as the seventh worst penalty taker in league action over the past twelve years, hitting 14 of 20 from the spot for a rather uninspiring 70% conversion rate. It's a little surprising on the surface, as most fans would think of Gerrard as cool and composed when taking penalties, but the reality is that when it comes to regular takers Liverpool's captain is hardly Mister Automatic.

* The Guardian has been on a bit of a roll lately when it comes to substandard football coverage, from their laughable commentary on Ian Ayre's talk of overseas television rights to Suarezgate and on through Paul Wilson dubbing Sebastian Coates' entire performance against Stoke on Wednesday "hapeless." It's an exploration of new territory for a paper that in recent years has been one of the most fair and even-handed sources of information for those with Liverpool leanings, but for those looking for something to help pass the time on a Friday morning it's still well worth the time to head over and learn about the now largely forgotten English Super Cup. Once the obligatory introductory shot at greedy Ian Ayre and Liverpool is out of the way, it becomes a story of the steps England's FA took after their clubs were banned from European competition following Heysel.

Six clubs, including Liverpool, had qualified for Europe for the 1985-86 season, but the ban rendered their efforts in the previous campaign immaterial and Everton, who were the league champions, were denied a place in the European Cup; to say they weren't best pleased with their Merseyside neighbours would be an understatement. Football fans don't forget. They still haven't forgiven them.

Not to worry though, because the Football League was soon to come up with a bright idea: instead of playing European football, the six clubs would instead take part in a domestic tournament called the Super Cup as a form of financial and sporting compensation. Everton would have been in the European Cup, Liverpool, Southampton and Tottenham had qualified for the Uefa Cup via the league and Norwich as League Cup winners, while Manchester United would have been in the Cup Winners' Cup as FA Cup holders.

After a scrambled conception it was hardly smooth sailing, with struggles to find sponsors and broadcasters preceding a competition that would be played to mostly half-empty stadium while seeing little interest from the wider public. In the end, Everton would get a chance to gain some measure of revenge for being barred from Europe when they faced Liverpool in a two-legged final. They wouldn't manage it, falling 7-2 on aggregate to the only ever winners of England's long gone and largely unlamented Super Cup. Perhaps a cheeky "Come Back When You've Won the English Super Cup" banner for the club's next visit to Old Trafford is in order.

Ed will be around to prepare you for the Hodgpocalypse in a little bit, but in the meantime, while you hope that it's only Luis Suarez who finds any kind of Liverpool-related redemption this week…

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