15-round penalties in one round and late late goals in another. What will be next for Liverpool? AFC Bournemouth. The south coast side vanquished the Baggies on Tuesday to secure a place in the fifth round. Some may think that this will be an exciting draw for the club against one of the Premier League's more illustrious members, but Liverpool would be wise to avoid any patronising or relaxed approach when facing a side that can play good football.
The potential for giant-killing is there, and Liverpool will need to be careful against a club with the best goal difference and attack in the England's second tier. Eddie Howe's side sits in fourth spot on goal difference, two points behind the joint top three clubs. Liverpool are currently in a decent position in the Premier League and will understandably go into the tie as favourites to progress. Middlesbrough proved that Championship sides should not be underestimated, and it will probably take a performance of some level of satisfaction for progress to be secured. Four straight wins in the Championship, clean sheets in rounds one to three of the League Cup, and beating a Premier League side further underlines the quality of Howe's promotion chasers.
Looking at the other matches, Newcastle have another difficult assignment away from home, but the victory against holders Manchester City was the third on the spin in all competitions. Liverpool would be wise to be alert this weekend. Alan Pardew and his resurgent outfit travel to London to face Tottenham Hotspur, the home of cup goalscoring youngster Harry Kane, at White Hart Lane. Steve McClaren and José Mourinho face off in what could be an interesting encounter between Derby County and Chelsea at Pride Park while in-form Southampton should go through after drawing League One Sheffield United, the weakest team in the draw on paper.
Avoiding a Premier League team would have been the most desirable draw and Liverpool can be thankful for that. All four ties will be played on the week beginning 15 December, mere days after the trip to fierce rivals Manchester United. Arsenal lie in wait after the trip to Bournemouth so the quarter-final would demand necessary rotation to keep Liverpool's best players fresh in that stretch of matches.
The tie marks the first time Brendan Rodgers has steered Liverpool to the last eight of any cup competition in his time at the club. There's some way to go before talk of winning a trophy but a first cup semi-final in the Rodgers era would be a welcome landmark for all connected with the club.
Fifth round/quarter-final draw in full:
Derby County v. Chelsea
Tottenham v. Newcastle
Bournemouth v. Liverpool
Sheffield United v. Southampton