After seeing off Burnley in the Premier League midweek, Liverpool host the Clarets’ Lancashire rivals when they take on Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.
A place is at stake for the in-form Reds against mid-table Championship opposition.
Liverpool are the bookmakers’ favourites to go on to lift the trophy and Brendan Rodgers can be expected to name a strong side this weekend with a place at Wembley at stake.
Brad Jones, Lucas and Jordon Ibe are all still out. Steven Gerrard is still a doubt and may make his return in the Premier League the following weekend instead.
Defender Jason Lowe remains on the sidelines and has been for nearly one month now. The only other injury for Gary Bowyer to worry about is the doubt of Joshua King. The pacey Norwegian was key for Rovers in reaching the final eight in tormenting both Swansea City and Stoke City in the previous two rounds.
Mamadou Sakho is the only player with any injury concern for Brendan Rodgers in this starting lineup – Dejan Lovren could replace him with the Croatian starting the last three games. We could see Adam Lallana starting this – perhaps Daniel Sturridge is not ready to play two games in a week or either forward being rested from the start in this game. Otherwise, it will or should be a close-to-full first team named by the Northern Irishman.
Blackburn Rovers could be without Joshua King as a big blow to playing Liverpool on the counter attack. They still have two top strikers in Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede to cause the Liverpool defence problems, if they can get the supply. The Championship side’s creativity comes from down the wings through Craig Conway and Tom Cairney.
Philippe Coutinho vs Adam Henley
Philippe Coutinho has been one of the top players in the Premier League over the past couple of months and if he starts this one he’ll be a real threat to Blackburn’s young right-back Adam Henley. The Brazilian will be looking to collect the ball from deep before running at the Championship defence, creating chances for his teammates and perhaps a couple of long-range efforts too.
Jordan Henderson vs Lee Williamson
Liverpool’s stand-in captain has been on fire lately, scoring the opening goal in their victories over Manchester City and Burnley over the past week, both from 20 yards. The England international is also creating chances for teammates and will be looking to get the better of Lee Williamson in the centre of midfield.
Daniel Sturridge vs Matthew Kilgallon
Daniel Sturridge headed home Liverpool’s clincher midweek and should Brendan Rodgers start him this weekend many will be looking for him to get amongst the goalscorers again. He doesn’t face the easiest of defences to be honest – Matthew Kilgallon has Premier League experience and is capable of shutting down a striker.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Blackburn Rovers
We’re not sensing any upsets in this tie and with Liverpool having won nine of their last 11 games in the Premier League we expect them to progress versus a team 13 points off the Championship playoffs. Liverpool are the in-form team in England right now, defending well, maintaining possession and a very good attack.