Liverpool v Manchester United: FA Cup preview


The backslapping and adulation has barely subsided and Liverpool find themselves gearing up for another blockbuster at Anfield.


After the pulsating Carling Cup semi-final defeat of Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City, Steven Gerrard has led the battle cry and called on his team mates to regain their focus before the tie of the round.


With much being written and said about Patrice Evra, managing director Ian Ayre does not want to diminish the passion of the head to head but is adamant that the focus must purely be football centred.

"It is the FA Cup, a great competition in English football and one we have a great history in and we want that to be what everyone focuses on," he told BBC Radio Merseyside.


"We have massive rivalry with Manchester United but those who are respectful also have respect for them because they are a great footballing side and team and like us they have been very successful.


"We mustn't detract from fans chanting and singing at each other but it needs to be a rivalry thing rather than a hatred thing.

"It is about a great spirit and a match between two great teams and it is certainly not hatred - there is no place for hatred in football."


Most of the focus will be around the appearance of Evra who is set to appear at a highly charged Anfield. Emotions remain high after the last encounter in October, when Evra accused Luis Suarez of racism. The Liverpool striker was found guilty and given an eight match ban. El Pistolero will not be featuring in the game.


Sir Alex Ferguson has already suggested that the French full back will be in the first team, whilst ex-Red Devil Viv Anderson is convinced Evra has the strength of character to deal with the ferocity and passion that the tie will bring.


United have several injury concerns joining Nemanja Vidic on the treatment table. Phil Jones and Nani were subbed during the clash with Arsenal. Portugese star Nani may be out of up to two months with ligament damage.


Rio Ferdinand has struggled to regain full fitness and with such a casualty list it is unlikely that stand in captain Evra will be excluded from the squad.


"It wouldn't be a consideration,'' United assistant manager Mike Phelan told MEN. "Patrice Evra is a football player, who plays for Manchester United. If he is fit, he is considered to play like any other player.''


Liverpool may have reached their first Wembley final since the white suit brigade took over the twin towers in 1996, but Dalglish is keen to avoid a successive FA Cup knockout to their arch rivals.


Speaking on talkSPORT former Liverpool Defender Dominic Matteo said that the League Cup and a good FA Cup run would represent a satisfactory season.


I believe fans expectancies are reasonable, but higher than that of Matteo’s. The Champions League spot remains a priority for both fans and the board. Most would settle for that and a trophy this season. After all this is a major rebuilding job for Dalglish.


With huge scrutiny likely to be focussed on chanting and bantering fans it is vital that any trouble makers, mischief makers and law breakers amongst both sets of fans have swift and immediate action taken against them.


Whilst the spotlight is on Evra it is important the focus is on the game and it is anticipated that this could be another classic.


Let the battle commence.

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