Date:Tuesday January 31 2006
With the threat of Peter Crouch Steve Bruce will be tempted to counteract with the introduction of 6’4” Martin Latka. In point of fact Kenny Cunningham who Latka replaces had no problem at St Andrew’s with Crouch, in spite of giving him 10” in height. Crouch’s aerial threat is more perception than reality. Both Tebily and Bruce who stood in at Reading did perfectly capably and may yet have a say in the starting line up. Skipper Matthew Upson will return.
Liverpool may include the aging Robbie Fowler, a surprise returnee to his Scouse roots. Fowler is a real threat to Blues having scored against us for Liverpool and Man City. A ‘dream’ return is something Blues could do with out.
The other scouser in the team is the key to Blues chances. Steven Gerrard arguably the best footballer in the Premiership, has in the last 12 months catapulted Liverpool from the ordinary to very special. In Blues’ double over them last year Gerrard was not a factor. In the 2-2 draw in the Autumn Blues, in the shape of Damian Johnson, hung onto his shirt tails and only generous officials let Liverpool steal a point.
Damian Johnson got to know Gerrard pretty well during that time as the little Irishman was key in England’s defeat in Belfast. The task was made somewhat easier by the total ineptitude of Sven Goran Erickson who finds it difficult to get the best out of Gerrard. Rafa Benitez has no such short comings and Johnson’s ability to temper, if not negate the England man’s threat is crucial.
Emile Heskey whose last 4 appearances in this fixture have all been victories will be more than happy to continue the run. Heskey’s first disappointing display for sometime occurred on Saturday at Reading and he was replaced by the more threatening Forssell. Steve Bruce is likely to give the big man a start at Anfield in the hope that the occasion and the Finn’s obvious claim’s for his place will inspire Emile into action.
Neither side looked convincing on Saturday but both were in the hat for the fifth round of the FA Cup. Blues need to negotiate a tricky replay with Championship leader’s Reading in order to face Stoke at the Britannia. Liverpool welcome Manchester United to Anfield where one can be sure the fans will re-enforce their reputation with their welcome for Gary Neville.
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