The League Cup has always been a strange one. It’s got three handles for a start, and doesn’t have a lid you can wear as a hat. What’s the point, then? Well, it was conceived in the early 1960s by erstwhile Football League boss Alan Hardaker (Little England) in the petty hope of distracting clubs from the new-fangled European scene, a gambit which it would be fair to say had limited success. As a result, the competition has struggled somewhat for an identity ever since. Po’ League Cup! League Cup’s a-cold!
Having said that, The Fiver has always loved it, despite its myriad dignity-stripping associations with hot brands such as Rumbelows, Littlewoods, Woolies, Timothy Whites, Bejam, MacFisheries, Our Price, Do It All, Dolcis, Owen Owen, Panda Pops, Pint of Heavy, Double Cream, Eggs, Yogurt, Beef Dripping, Wang, Mr Tom, Percy Pig and Players No 6. The same can’t be said for Liverpool, though, whose attitude towards their two-legged semi-final with Arsenal has, from the get-go, been ambivalent at best, ever since Jürgen Klopp raised the possibility of deciding it instead by a quick game of rock, paper, scissors. Bob Paisley and Joe Fagan, masterminds of the club’s 1980s four-in-a-row Milk Cup domination, will be churning in their graves.
Liverpool have now got their wish, sort of, in so much as Thursday evening’s first leg at the Emirates has been postponed. This is due to a severe outbreak of ennui at Anfield, though a significant number of players and staff, including both Klopp and his assistant Pep Lijnders, have also gone down with Covid, which doesn’t help. Consequently, the second leg at Anfield next week will become the first, the fixture at Arsenal will now be played on 20 January, and coronavirus fall-guys Leyton Orient are guaranteed to trend for the next fortnight on Social Media Disgrace Twitter, as if people don’t have enough to be up in arms about in the real world. Romelu Lukaku, back in Chelsea’s squad for Wednesday’s game against Spurs in the other semi, sends his thanks for taking the heat off.