After their disappointing display at Wembley last weekend, if Liverpool still have any realistic hope of salvaging what has been a miserable season, they’re going to have to kick-start a revival against West Bromwich Albion tomorrow.
This club might be all about winning trophies, but at this point in time, qualifying for the Champions League for the second year on the bounce might just be good enough to keep the critics off their back and shoo the vultures circling around Reds boss Brendan Rodgers. As unlikely as that may seem, sitting seven points off of fourth placed Manchester City with a match in hand, it’s not impossible quite yet with the Citizens looking ripe to continue their spectacular implosion. That being said, the Baggies won’t be interested at all in giving us a leg-up — they have their own problems to worry about.
They might be mired in a bit of a relegation scrap at the moment, but after losing out to Aston Villa in the FA Cup semi-final last weekend, West Bromwich Albion is one of the last teams they would have wanted to try to bounce back against.
You can double down on that statement now that Tony Pulis is in charge at the Hawthorns with the Welshman’s impressive record against the Reds preceding itself. He may have found things a bit tough going in the West Midlands since replacing Alan Irvine on New Year’s Day, but the win over his old club Crystal Palace has seen the Baggies climb to within two wins of the magic 40-point safety net in the race for Premier League survival. While they’ve been given a reprieve — for now anyway — from the dog-fight at the bottom, assistant boss Dave Kemp believes that the club should be able to push on from here and hopefully capitalize on the Reds recent struggles.
If you think we’ve got one foot in the final, you’re just flat out wrong. I’ve banged on all season about there being no easy matches, and despite Aston Villa’s struggles in the Premier League, this falls firmly in line with what I’ve been saying.
We’ve seen miraculous things at Wembley down the years and a lot of times we’ve been involved. One only needs to think back to the last time we won the FA Cup for a story you couldn’t write if you tried. That new monstrosity in the Capital may have lost some of the mystique and the magic the old stadium possessed, but make no mistake — players and managers alike know that winning silverware is what it’s all about.
Aston Villa’s Premier League status isn’t completely safe quite yet, but the Villans won’t be worrying about that one bit for at least a little while with Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final meeting with Liverpool taking the focus directly off the relegation scrap.
After bringing in former Tottenham Hotspur boss Tim Sherwood for the struggling Paul Lambert in mid-February, the Birmingham based outfit have seen their fortunes turn around somewhat in the last couple weeks as they now sit a full six points clear of the drop zone with only five matches left to play. A narrow victory over his old side last weekend sees the Villa manager head to Wembley in full swagger, but also quick to admit that had they not snatched three points at White Hart Lane that things would be different.
Tomorrow would be a really good time to turn things around; after losing back to back matches for the first time in forever, Liverpool, who were the form team since turning their slow start to the season around in the middle of December, look to be in a slump again.
Finding the net only three times in our last four outings — which includes the scoreless draw with Blackburn Rovers in the first FA Cup quarter-final meeting at Anfield — the Reds are having problems all over the pitch all over again. This, of course, doesn’t bode well when you take into account that our hosts already have two Premier League scalps to their name and will be well up to claiming a third.