Liverpool vs. Fulham: Resting Players Key to Reds' FA Cup Success
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This could, however, be just the recipe for success Kenny Dalglish has been hoping for.
It is no secret that the Premier League is a lost cause for Liverpool this season; for Chelsea, on the other hand, it is crucial.
Roberto Di Matteo’s charges sit in sixth place, one point off Tottenham Hotspur and tomorrow’s opponents, Newcastle, in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Slip-ups can be ill afforded; if fourth isn’t reached, it means beating Bayern Munich in their own backyard will be the only chance of Champions League football next season.
And despite the drubbing by Wigan at the weekend, it is highly unlikely the Sports Direct Arena outfit will be walkovers.
All this adds up a full-strength side having to be selected; Di Matteo can afford little else, and the next three days before a domestic cup final is far from ideal.
While Dalglish would no doubt much prefer to be in Chelsea’s position, he can take key players out of the equation tonight and give some of those on the fringes a chance to shine.
Seventh place is the best his side can achieve. The Cottagers could claw themselves level on points in eighth with victory tonight, but if Liverpool followed it up with another Wembley win, it would all be worthwhile.
The likes of Martin Skrtel, Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez could all be wrapped up in cotton wool, and those either out of form or not regular starters could lay their FA Cup claim.
Andy Carroll has been improving but a steady stream of goals need to be found; hitting the back of Mark Schwarzer’s net tonight could do wonders for confidence.
Jordan Henderson could be given a chance to show he can do from his favoured central midfield role, while the likes of Jonjo Shelvey could get more crucial top-flight experience.
Whilst it would be nice to see the likes of Raheem Sterling being featured with flair being a huge miss in the side, it is unlikely changes will be rung to that extent.
Martin Jol’s side will be no pushovers however, despite never having won at Anfield and failing to score in the last five visits.
Midweek football before an FA Cup final may not be ideal, but for Liverpool at least it could be the perfect tonic.
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