Many egos in the Kop dressing room will be bruised and battered after Kenny Dalglish ripped into his lightweights after an abject and downtrodden performance at the Reebok Stadium at the weekend.
Dalglish said his players were distracted by the semi-final encounter against Manchester City and now have to prove that the three goal drubbing was a one off.
Liverpool go into this semi second leg with one league win in six and nine for the season so far. The Reds saving grace has been the equally inconsistent form of their league rivals, which leaves them six points off Chelsea.
The Reds have been different in the cups though and are 90 minutes away from their first trip to the new Wembley and their first final since the 2007 Champions League Final in Athens.
Liverpool will again look to Steven Gerrard for the winning spark. Gerrard is the ultimate big game player and City’s coaching staff will not need to be reminded about this.
Craig Bellamy, who has arguably been the best player so far this season, may not be up to playing a second consecutive game so soon.
The City threat will emanate from the boots of David Silva, who will look to take centre stage in the absence of immense Lucas. The Sky Blues do have an Achilles heel which has been further pinpointed by Spurs, and it is none other than Stefan Savic.
The Montenegrin is the weakest link and he is the league leader's fragile piece at the back. Savic also felled Daniel Agger for the first leg penalty that led to Gerrard’s clincher.
Roberto Mancini’s men will be on a high after achieving what could be their most significant win of the whole season. The last minute 3-2 home win over Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham will have had everyone sit up and take note.
It was a mammoth win and cements them as champions elect. Another £50 million on new players during this window should do the job.
The big question at Eastlands will be whether Mancini, David Platt and Brian Kidd will be looking to field a second string side for the semi clash at Anfield. Critics will argue City’s second string are better than most other teams in the country but against a side like Liverpool they will do so at their peril.
It may be a low priority game for the Sky Blues but for the fans and the home grown players a cup final at Wembley is not to be sniffed at. It’s a big week for Liverpool with Manchester United in the FA Cup this weekend and the Reds will not look the gift horse n the mouth.
In a week that saw certain playing staff face the wrath of Dalglish and with the visit of John Henry and Tom Werner it is crucial that results this week reflect the level of expectancy from the board and fans. It’s time to deliver or some players will be heading for the exit.
I’m looking ahead to Wembley and already hatching plans for final tickets. It’ll be a big night at Anfield.
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