Blackburn v Liverpool - FA Cup Quarter-final Replay Preview

Blackburn v Liverpool - FA Cup Quarter-final Replay Preview

Four weeks since that drab goalless draw at Anfield, Blackburn and Liverpool will battle it out again. This time in Lancashire at Ewood Park for a place in the last four of the FA Cup. Gary Bowyer should be hoping his Blackburn outfit can take advantage of and possibly upset an already dejected Liverpool after the visitors’ impressive form in the league has come to a rude end with two back to back losses against Manchester United and Arsenal. But the home side are not in good touch themselves having lost two of their last three games in the league and find themselves tenth with just six games to go.

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Liverpool will have to make this season count and give the fans something to shout about and the only way they can do it is by going all the way in the FA Cup. A victory away from Wembley, Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool could use this fixture as their springboard to  a good timely lift ahead of the Premier League run-in and their ambitions to finish in the top four places. The manager has admitted the drop in level of his side, both physical and intensity wise, that has cost them the last two games but sounded determined to get the reds’ season back on track with a win against Blackburn. He said,

“The last four games we have played, we haven’t created as much and we haven’t started well. [Winning the replay] It would mark another step forward for us. Getting to a final and winning a trophy is what we would want.”

Team News

Blackburn Rovers are facing an injury crisis with up to ten players on the treatment table. Their list of casualties now includes Eastwood, Chris Taylor, Gestede, Brown, Craig Conway, Grant Hanley, Josh King, David Dunn and long-term victims Shane Duffy and Jason Lowe. Former Liverpool midfielder Jay Spearing scored his first goal for Blackburn in the win over Leeds but he’s cup tied for the clash with his former club. Paul Taylor, David Raya and John O’Sullivan are also ineligible. Jason Steele, who was rested on Saturday, will start in goal against Liverpool.

For Liverpool, Rodgers revealed Balotelli could return for the FA Cup replay. The Italian striker missed Saturday’s defeat against Arsenal after picking up a knee problem in training and will require a late fitness test prior to the game.

Recent Meetings

Liverpool 0 Blackburn 0, Premier League, March 2015

Blackburn 2 Liverpool 3  Premier League, April 2012

Liverpool 1 Blackburn 1  Premier League, December 2011

Interesting Numbers

Ricky Lambert is the 3rd most used substitute in the League this season

Liverpool currently stand 3rd in the Premier League Fair Play Table

Liverpool’s highest scorer this season has just 6 goals, Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard.

Key Men

Jordan Rhodes – Blackburn Rovers

The 25-year old has been getting the goals for Blackburn Rovers this season. Having already scored 17 goals, he looks like he could be playing in the Premier League next season. In 39 appearances, the forward has managed to create a respectable 36 chances that includes 4 assists. His shot accuracy has been impressive to say the least with 44% of his shots aimed at goal while 17 of his 38 shots on goal finding the net meaning a goal every two shots on target showing his quality up top. His ability to hold the ball effectively and to bring others into the game will prove to be vital against the three opposition center backs that could potentially decide the outcome of this fixture.

Phillipe Coutinho – Liverpool

Coutinho has grown in stature for Liverpool with his stock rising by the day, with every match-winning display. Although his form has seemed to dip in the last couple of games, there’s little doubt that the Brazilian has played a pivotal role in Liverpool’s good form since the turn of new year, scoring and creating goals on a regular basis. In 25 starts in the league, Coutinho has managed to score 4 and create 4 other goals averaging 2.5 shots per goal. Completing an average of 3 dribbles per game, the Brazilian has also been able to maintain a commendable pass accuracy of 80%. Known for his ability to play anywhere in the midfield, the 22-year old particularly likes to drift inside from the right and shoot from just outside the box, something he does very well of late. Arguably the most creative player in the side, Coutinho could have a major say in the result and should he play well on Wednesday, Liverpool could well be on their way to Wembley.

Prediction

As the cliche goes, form book goes out of the window in cup games . Liverpool to go one more step closer to achieving what is the stuff of wet dreams- Lift that FA cup in all its glory in May, on Gerrard’s birthday.

Blackburn Rovers 1-2 Liverpool.