Liverpool Club Focus – FA Cup rout perfect preparation for Carling Cup final

Rampant Liverpool prepared for their upcoming Carling Cup final with a morale-boosting win over Championship outfit Brighton and Hove Albion in the FA Cup. The emphatic 6-1 result may have somewhat flattered the hosts, particularly as half of their successful strikes were own goals, but it was the Reds’ biggest victory of the season and Kenny Dalglish’s side will face last year’s finalists Stoke City in the quarter-finals next month.

And while Liverpool fans will undoubtedly want to see their team reach Wembley in the FA Cup, all focus has now switched to this Sunday, when the Merseysiders will travel to the capital in the hunt for their first trophy since 2006. Only Welsh side Cardiff City stand in the Reds’ way, but with big-money strike duo Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez seemingly hitting form at the right time – Suarez has now scored two goals in as many starts since his return from a lengthy ban and Carroll has shown signs of improvement over the last few weeks – Liverpool are overwhelming favourites to clinch the cup.

But Dalglish is refusing to get carried away with the Reds’ most recent result. According to BBC Sport, the Scotsman said: “Defeating Brighton has got us to the next round, but it doesn’t really help us in the Carling Cup.” He added: “We’ve got a cup final but we won’t get carried away.”

The Liverpool boss was impressed with star trio Suarez, Carroll and Steven Gerrard, who started together for the first time against Brighton. However, he insisted that the Anfield outfit’s success came down to more than just those three key men. Dalglish told the Daily Telegraph: “The three of them are fantastic footballers. The more of our iconic players we get out there on the pitch then the better chance we have of having success out on the pitch.” He added: “But then the fact they’ve not started together before shows how successful the rest of the players have been. As we’ve seen there will always be individuals who are more attracted to the headlines than others, but we will get nowhere unless we act as a team and stick together as a team.”

Indeed, Liverpool had to make full use of their large squad against Brighton, as influential players Craig Bellamy and Daniel Agger both missed out altogether. That Agger’s replacement, former England international and Reds’ vice-captain Jamie Carragher, slotted straight back into the team without much trouble, suggests that Dalglish has a great number of options available ahead of Sunday’s final.

Should Bellamy and Agger return, they are likely to make the starting line-up at the expense of Stewart Downing and Carragher, while the likes of Jay Spearing and Dirk Kuyt will also hope to be involved. The Liverpool manager now has a week to decide which players to pin his hopes on ahead of the Merseysiders’ biggest game of the season.

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