Having been eliminated from the FA Cup in the Fourth Round replay with West Ham United earlier in the month, Liverpool have been afforded a rare break from the fixture congestion of the past couple of months ahead of the second leg of their Europa League Round of 32 clash with FC Augsburg at Anfield next Thursday and the League Cup final at Wembley the following Sunday.
“In terms of where we are now, we’ve got that rest and we have to use it,” said Reds vice-captain James Milner, set to enjoy a weekend away from the typical hustle and bustle of the season. “We’ve got two massive games next week – a chance to progress in [the Europa League] and a chance to win a trophy which doesn’t come around too often,” continued the 30-year old midfielder, keeping the all important meeting with former side Manchester City in mind. “So it’s important that we’re ready for those two and hopefully we can get two positive results next week.”
IF they’re to do just that, they’re going to have put in a pair of performances far exceeding the dour display they put in on the continent last week. Although both sides had chances to score, the first leg of the tie with Augsburg was short on quality with Reds boss Jurgen Klopp disappointed to see his side, who had scored six against Aston Villa at the weekend, fail to take any of their chances.
“I think we can play a lot better than that, especially in the final third keeping the ball a little bit better and moving it too slow at times. We need to make sure that we put that right in the next game,” said Reds skipper Jordan Henderson, echoing the sentiments of his boss. “In the first half we played too slow from the back, weren’t playing behind their line enough so we tried that a little bit more second half and it worked, we had good moments but that’s not enough,” conceded the former Sunderland man before adding, “We need to do it more consistently throughout the game and if we do that then we’ll win the game.”