Contender for tie of the FA Cup fourth round comes at Anfield where reigning Premier League champions Manchester United travel to old rivals Liverpool.
The game comes in the fall-out of Luis Suarez’s eight-game ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra and he will not face United. Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish, as well as club captain Steven Gerrard, have appealed for calm from the Reds fans during the game after Merseyside Police stressed they will take action against those guilty of inappropriate behaviour. Liverpool go into the game following a good 5-1 win against Oldham in the last round and Dalglish is expected to strengthen his team from the side that faced the League One outfit. Craig Bellamy is a fitness worry after playing two games already this week and may be on the bench to give Andy Carroll the start against United. Reds defender Glen Johnson insists that fatigue will not be a factor against the Premier League champions, despite their midweek excursions against Manchester City in the Carling Cup.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has also called for responsibility from players and the 5,000 plus United fans travelling to Anfield. The Reds have drawn eight games at home in all competitions this season and United’s 1-1 league draw was one of those. Javier Hernandez, scorer that day, is expected to be on the bench again as nine goal striker Danny Welbeck starts. The England under 21 international was praised by his manager this week and he scored against Manchester City in the third round along with two from Wayne Rooney. Rooney is a doubt for the game with an ankle knock, along with Phil Jones, Nani and Rio Ferdinand. Jones and Nani are expected to start and Ferdinand could find himself on the bench at Anfield.
Liverpool will be looking to make a further step to the chance of a second Wembley final this season following their midweek success. The Reds have yet to play at the new Wembley and last won silverware with their FA Cup triumph of 2006, so will be desperate to get past United. Some of Ferguson’s experienced players, including Ferdinand and Rooney, have yet to win the FA Cup and they will take one step further to Wembley with a win against Liverpool at Anfield. United’s win at Arsenal will provide them with confidence and they are fresher than Liverpool, who will find it difficult to break down United’s defence without Luis Suarez.
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