Liverpool must take Capital One Cup seriously to realign season

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So divisive has the Capital One Cup become that Liverpool’s upcoming clash with Middlesbrough in the competition, off the back of a three-defeats-in-five start to the Premier League season, can either be seen as the perfect pipe cleaner or an unwanted annoyance.

If Brendan Rodgers is as smart as his press-conference sound bites hint at, then taking on the Championship’s fifth-placed side should be a welcome opportunity to not only allow his squad to further assimilate his philosophy, but also cling to a chance at silverware.

The Northern Irishman admitted after the Reds’ weekend defeat to West Ham that he needs to stick to a system of play for a longer period in order for his men to find their form.

With an injury hit midfield combining with Daniel Sturridge’s absence to make the 4-4-2 diamond an unsuitable fit, Rodgers must find a setup that compliments his available players, which could reportedly include two 17-year-olds in the League Cup clash.

Having showed progress in his reign at Anfield so far, the former Swansea manager must also continue to show he is taking steps in the right direction. Having landed a Champions League spot last term, such growth is likely to take the form of a trophy.

His side are 8/15 to beat Aitor Karanka’s team at home in the unpopular League Cup, with the odds of Liverpool winning the competition set at 7/1.

With Manchester United already out of the competition and a host of rivals likely to pay less attention to the trophy, Rodgers should use it to further embed his squad in his traditions while looking to add his first winners’ medal as Reds boss to his CV.

Whether the allure of chasing another top-four finish convinces the 41-year-old otherwise remains to be seen, however.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.