Liverpool Club Focus – More cup encouragement for Reds

Winger Stewart Downing scored the winning goal as Liverpool booked their place in the FA Cup semi-finals following a 2-1 victory over Stoke City on Sunday. The Reds, who clinched the Carling Cup at Wembley last month, will face either bitter local rivals Everton or Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland in the last four.

Kenny Dalglish’s men have enjoyed their cup adventures this season and are now looking to secure their second trophy of the campaign – after going six years without any silverware. And while a place in the top-four in the Premier League was a priority before the start of the season, many supporters are likely to be encouraged by the addition of the Carling Cup to the trophy cabinet and the possible addition of the FA Cup.

Fans can also take encouragement from Downing’s form in this competition. The former Aston Villa man, who joined the Anfield outfit in a big-money move last summer, has been widely criticised for his lack of goals and assists in the top-flight so far this term, however his two goals in a Liverpool shirt have come in the FA Cup. Downing was also considered to be the Reds’ star performer in the Carling Cup final against Cardiff.

Following the game, Dalglish told Liverpoolfc.tv: “It wasn’t the best we’ve ever passed the ball but the way we competed and the way we put bodies on the line was a great example. It showed people what it meant to them to try and get through this.”

Following on from the glorious 3-0 league victory over Everton last week, Dalglish will be impressed with his stand-in players. Jamie Carragher and Martin Kelly have been fine replacements for the injured Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson. Tough-tackling holding player Jay Spearing is also showing signs of improvement, while the partnership between expensive strike duo Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll has shown glimpses of potential. A solid end to the season would certainly raise hopes on Merseyside ahead of the next campaign.

But in order to end the season on a high, the Reds will have to improve in the league. While the win over Everton was a significant one for the locals, it was only Liverpool’s third victory in 12 Premier League games. A trip to Loftus Road on Wednesday could provide Dalglish’s men with the perfect opportunity to secure three more vital points as the Merseysiders aim to catch high-flying Newcastle in sixth place.

QPR, who are currently fighting to stay in the top-flight, have won just once in their last 16 league games. However, Liverpool will be wary of the threat posed by Frenchman Djibril Cisse, who was once the Reds’ record signing. A win for the visitors would see them close the gap on Newcastle to just two points.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on QPR v Liverpool

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