The first major domestic trophy of the season will be handed out on Sunday when Liverpool take on Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley.
It will be 17 years to the day since the two sides clashed at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in the final of what was then known as the Carling Cup.
Chelsea won 3-2 that day after extra-time in one of the great finals of the Premier League era.
The result would signal the start of Chelsea’s golden period under Jose Mourinho and spark a fierce rivalry with Liverpool that would reignite later that season.
Both sides went into the 2004-05 campaign under new leadership having replaced their managers during the summer break.
Liverpool had swapped Gerard Houllier for the imperturbable Rafael Benitez, who had won the La Liga and UEFA Cup double with Valencia the previous season.
At Chelsea, Claudio Ranieri had made way for the self-professed ‘Special One’ Mourinho, who had recently led Porto to Champions League glory and the Portuguese league title.
While Liverpool initially struggled for consistency under Benitez, Chelsea had no such problems adapting to Mourinho’s style of football.
They raced to the top of the Premier League and were nine points clear of nearest rivals Manchester United at the time of the Carling Cup final.
Liverpool, on the other hand, were struggling down in fifth and would start the match as clear underdogs.
But they took a shock lead inside the opening minute. Fernando Morientes setting up John Arne Riise to fire the Reds in front with an unstoppable volley after only 45 seconds, which remains to this day the fastest ever League Cup final goal.
It would take until the 79th minute for Chelsea to equalise in bizarre circumstances.
Paulo Ferreira floated a hopeful free-kick into the Liverpool box which should have easily been cleared.
However, three Liverpool players would compete for the same ball, with captain Steven Gerrard somehow managing to direct it past Jerzy Dudek and into his own net.
Mourinho would celebrate the goal in typically brash fashion, putting a finger to his lips in the direction of the Liverpool supporters. The provocative act would see him sent to the stands by referee Steve Bennett.
Neither side was able to find a late winner, with normal time ended 1-1.
Two minutes after the restart, Chelsea’s record signing Didier Drogba came agonisingly close to putting his side ahead but his header rebounded back off the post to the relief of Dudek.
Drogba would eventually get his goal in the second half of extra-time. The Ivory Coast international turning the ball home from close range after Liverpool failed to deal with a long throw from future Reds defender Glen Johnson.
Chelsea appeared to make the game safe five minutes later when Mateja Kezman bundled in another scrappy goal after Dudek had saved well from Eidur Gudjohnsen.
But the drama wasn’t yet over. A minute after Kezman’s goal, Antonio Nunez headed in a Gerrard free kick to drag Liverpool back into the match. He still remains the only player in Liverpool’s long history to score his only goal for the team in a major cup final.
Benitez’s side pushed hard for a late equaliser but were unable to find it, as Chelsea were crowned League Cup champions for the third time in their history, securing Mourinho his first piece of silverware at the club.
Following the match, the Portuguese claimed that the gesture he made had been intended for the media and not the Liverpool supporters.
"The signal of close your mouth was not for them but for the press, they speak too much and in my opinion they try to do everything to disturb Chelsea,” said Mourinho.
Liverpool would get their revenge later that season, beating Chelsea 1-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals of the Champions League thanks to Luis Garcia’s controversial winner at Anfield.
Liverpool would go on to win the competition for the fifth time in their history, beating AC Milan in Istanbul in arguably football's greatest ever final.
Chelsea, meanwhile, would be crowed Premier League champions at the end of the season after finishing with a record 95 points - 12 clear of defending champions Arsenal.
In total, Liverpool would play Chelsea a remarkable seven times in 2005 - cementing a fierce rivalry which continues to this day.
The two teams will go head-to-head again on Sunday in a mouth-watering clash at Wembley. Let's hope that it provides even half as much drama as Cardiff.
Featured Image Credit: PA Images
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