Winning both the League Cup and the FA Cup in one season would be a massive success for Liverpool, and a fitting tribute to the departing Steven Gerrard.
Despite a rather poor start to the season, Liverpool are starting to put a run of results together in the Premier League, going unbeaten in their last six and only losing one of their last 10 top flight fixtures. They produced an excellent attacking display in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final against Chelsea and were unlucky not to win the game. If they can get a result at Stamford Bridge, they should fancy themselves in the final against either Tottenham Hotspur or Sheffield United.
In terms of the FA Cup, Liverpool have a fourth round tie against Championship side Bolton Wanderers at Anfield this evening. This is certainly a match Liverpool would expect to win, and there is no doubt the current Liverpool side have the squad and the quality to reach the FA Cup final, but they must take each round as it comes.
The FA Cup final falls on the same day as Steven Gerrard’s 35th birthday. If Liverpool do get there, it will also be Steven Gerrard’s last game for the club before he moves to LA Galaxy in the summer. If anything, this is a huge incentive for Liverpool to give the FA Cup a good go this season.
The only issue for Brendan Rodgers is the prospect of juggling Premier League fixtures whilst Liverpool are still competing in the League Cup, FA Cup and Europa League. This represents the biggest stumbling block for the Merseysiders, as too many fixtures could really disrupt their season. The battle for a Champions League place this season is set to be one that could go right down to the wire and Rodgers has made it clear that qualifying for the Champions League should be the top priority for Liverpool.
They currently sit five points adrift of fourth placed Man United, and teams such as Arsenal, Tottenham, United, Southampton and West Ham are all vying for the same position. So it’s clear Liverpool will need to put together an impressive run of results if they are to successfully break into the top four, something that becomes a lot harder when a fixture list like Liverpool’s is so congested.
Therefore, in order to provide Gerrard with a fitting send-off, Rodgers will have to figure out his priorities in terms of the league and cup competitions. He could go all out to win the Europa League and gain Champions League qualification as a result, but that is easier said than done. Finishing fourth is far from a guarantee for Liverpool but there is no doubt that this is the club’s main target for the rest of the season.
A lot will depend on how they do in the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea. If they lose that, other competitions will immediately become more desirable. There is a possibility that Liverpool could win two trophies by the time the season finishes, but Rodgers will have to handle his team and fixtures excellently if he stands any chance of providing the send-off that Steven Gerrard deserves.