A fixture to warm the heart and the blood in the Carling Cup tonight conjures images of the days when Liverpool and Leeds United clashed so titanically and so often. For some the 1965 FA Cup Final – three goals in a tense extra time – springs to mind; for others the scintillating afternoon when Lee Chapman stamped his mark on the game Leeds lost 5-4 at Elland Road in 1991. For yet more, the last home victory Yorkshire celebrated in the fixture: the 4-3 win in 2000 when Mark Viduka struck all four goals.
Leeds, who haven't played Liverpool in the League Cup since the Don Revie era, might have laboured in the five years since they dropped out of the top flight but 40,000 are expected to pack their ground tonight, their expectation buoyed by Leeds having won their last 15 home games and dropped just two points in eight games to lead the third tier. Their manager Simon Grayson, an individual steeped in the club's history having been signed at the age of 14 by Eddie Gray, and given his debut by Billy Bremner three years later (only to be released by Howard Wilkinson by the age of 21), is the right man to lead the dressing room.
It is the 1991 clash between these sides Grayson best recalls. "I remember the 5-4 game as being fantastic," he said. "Being a schoolboy at the time, I was up where you get the free complimentaries. You remember [Tony] Yeboah scoring that volley [in a 1-0 win at Elland Road in 1995], Viduka scoring four and even further back, when I was involved as a YTS player. There have been some great, traditional games. But that is all in the past now. Liverpool are one of the top teams in Europe and we are in League One."
Grayson, who could be without Portuguese centre-back Rui Marques and club captain Richard Naylor, has always been determined to draw on the history, though. "You can never take the past and the history away at any football club," he said. "You just say to the players, 'You're part of a new group that becomes the legends that are talked about in the next 10 or 15 years, because you're part of a successful team'. This club has fantastic memories from the Revie years. Why can't the new group of players try and emulate what they did."
He has higher expectations than most League One managers, too. "The dream scenario would be a 2-0, 3-0 home win, anything like that," Grayson said. Liverpool are likely to include second-choice goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri, new Greece defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Swiss defender Philipp Degen, Andrea Dossena and Ryan Babel. "I have been watching DVDs of their games and it is clear that their supporters are very important to them," manager Rafael Benitez said.Reuse content