Is it gonna be a season to forget or one to remember? A part of the answer, or the whole, comes tonight when Liverpool take on Blackburn in a FA Cup quarterfinal replay at Ewood Park. Anything but a win will deem this campaign as a let-down. If we win then we still have a chance of grabbing a trophy.
In the last two league games the Reds have lost to top four rivals Manchester United and Arsenal and subsequently given up on Champions League positions. Now it´s only FA Cup glory to fight for. First hurdle in the quest for this silverware is Championship side Blackburn this evening. Even if Rovers at the moment are in 10th place in the second tier they won´t be a pushover. As Premier League sides Stoke and Swansea have experienced this season going down 4-1 and 3-1 at Ewood Park in the FA Cup. Liverpool also felt their strength, especially defensively, when Blackburn managed to get a 0-0 draw at Anfield a few weeks back earning themselves a replay at home.
Now Liverpool must recapture the form which resulted in a 13 match unbeaten streak in the league before the two latest defeats brought us back to earth. Recently we have been slow and unimaginative going forward and sloppy in defence. This must be wiped out tonight and replaced with crisp passing and creativity when attacking, determination in defence and pure hard work. And above all, we can´t start slowly once again. That is a formula for failure. Liverpool must take charge from the off and put Blackburn under pressure. If we let them take control and maybe get a goal then we have to chase the game and that is something we haven´t been good at in a long time. The first goal must be a red one and then we can build on that and hopefully make sure we progress.
If Liverpool get knocked out then this season must be described as, well, a fiasco. No silverware and a league position outside the Champions League places. Of course, we can still reach top four, theoretically that is, but in real life that is not going to happen. Even if we win all remaining seven games then Manchester City, Man Utd or Arsenal must drop eight, nine or ten points and that is not even close to plausible.
So we must go all in tonight and keep hopes of a FA Cup final alive. This is the team I would pick for the job (in a 4-3-3 formation):
GK: Simon Mignolet. RB: Glen Johnson. CB: Dejan Lovren. CB: Mamadou Sakho. LB: Alberto Moreno. DM: Lucas Leiva. RM: Jordan Henderson. LM: Joe Allen. RF: Raheem Sterling. CF: Daniel Sturridge. LF: Philippe Coutinho.
We need to revert to a back four in this match because two of the key figures, Martin Skrtel and Emre Can, in the successful back three is out due to suspensions. We have not adequate replacements for a back three to function so we need four defenders. Hopefully Sturridge is fit and can start otherwise Lazar Markovic has to come in and Sterling shifted to the centre of attack. Unfortunately neither Sten Gerrard nor Adam Lallana can participate, suspension and injury preventing them. But any Red team selected should win against the Championship side.
Time for the rallying cry: We Go Again.