Saturday, February 18, 2012

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19.02. (Sun) 17:30 Liverpool - Brighton & Hove A.

FA Cup - Liverpool v Manchester United, Kenny Dalglish and Dirk Kuyt
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Kelly, Carragher, Coates, Robinson
Maxi, Spearing, Adam, Downing
Suarez, Carroll

Calderon, Greer, Dunk, El-Abd

Noone, Forster-Caskey, Buckly, Barnes

Kenny Dalglish has no fresh injury worries to contend with, as long-term absentee Lucas Leiva remains the only first-team player out. The club have also had to deal with less fixture congestion than other Premier League sides who are competing in Europe and therefore a semi-full strength line-up is likely.

Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Andy Carroll are still yet to start any game together for Liverpool, and that may well continue with some fringe players coming in. Jamie Carragher is in line to make his 210th appearance in a competitive cup-tie for the club - which would be a Liverpool record. Others such as Maxi Rodriguez, Charlie Adam, Martin Kelly and youngster Jack Robinson could all take part in the fixture.

Brighton boss Gus Poyet will have Will Buckley back from the sidelines to start in midfield, after he missed the draw with Millwall, but Vicente Rodriguez will face a late fitness test. Gary Dicker (leg) and Tommy Elphick (Achilles) complete the injury list, with Matt Sparrow also unavailable as he will be serving the last game of his three-match ban picked up against Leicester.

Craig Noone has largely been used as a substitute this season, but the winger - who has supported Liverpool since he was a boy - played well against the Reds in their League Cup clash earlier this season and will be hoping for a chance to impress again on Sunday. The Seagulls have also completed the loan signings of Manchester City duo Adbul Razak and Gai Assulin, who used to play for Barcelona, in time for them to be eligible to feature.


  • Liverpool have won the FA Cup seven times, their first coming under Bill Shankly in 1965 and their most recent in a thrilling encounter with West Ham United in 2006.
  • Dalglish's side have been knocked out the competition by lower league opponents twice at Anfield in the last few seasons - in 2008 to Barnsley and in 2010 to Reading. However, they remain unbeaten at Anfield so far this season.
  • The hosts' attacking trio of Andy Carroll, Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez have not yet started a match together.
  • Liverpool have already dumped the Seagulls out of one cup this year, beating them 2-1 in the League Cup third round. The visitors have not lost in any competition this calendar year though, winning six and drawing four of the 10 games they've played so far in 2012.
  • If defender Jamie Carragher plays a role in the match it will be his 210th appearance in a cup tie for Liverpool, equalling Ian Callaghan's club record.
  • Brighton, currently ninth in the Championship, reached the FA Cup final in 1983 and were close to pulling off an almighty upset against Manchester United, after defeating the Merseyside team at Anfield on the way, but the Red Devils won the cup in a replay.
  • The Seagulls' boss Gus Poyet (pictured right), a compatriot of Liverpool's Luis Suarez, defended the Reds' forward during his race row with Patrice Evra, claiming: "Luis is not a racist. We use different words and it is a different situation."
  • The Uruguayan manager faced Liverpool numerous times during his time as a player with Chelsea and Tottenham. He netted once against Liverpool for each side, scoring 125 club goals in his whole career. He was also the first from his country to appear in an FA Cup final, with Suarez aiming to become the second this campaign.
  • Brighton's last FA Cup triumph away from home against a top-flight team was in 1986 when they beat Newcastle. However, they also defeated the Magpies at home in the last round of this season's competition.
  • The last time the sides met in the FA Cup the south-coast team beat Liverpool in a fourth round replay, 21 years ago. In all meetings the hosts hold an advantage of 12 victories to Brighton's four, with eight draws.
Dalglish's men are already in one cup final, against Cardiff, and most fans will be expecting them to take that League Cup trophy home. With the club also absent from the race for the Premier League title once more, the FA Cup is of great importance to the fans and the manager. Therefore, the Reds' line-up will be strong, though probably not full-strength, and may include a few players who have a point to prove, such as Stewart Downing and Maxi Rodriguez.
Liverpool can take confidence from their 2-1 League Cup defeat of Brighton earlier in the season, however the Championship side's form has massively improved since then with Poyet's men ninth in the league after an unbeaten run of seven games.
The Seagulls are a decent side and will be good value for a goal in an interesting match-up. But the experience and ability of the Reds should prove too much for the visitors. An away win would certainly be a big shock, and I expect the hosts to run out comfortable winners.
Editor's Prediction
Liverpool 3-1 Brighton