Writer: Steve Guscott
Date:Friday January 1 2010
2nd January 2010
In December 2007 the Royals beat Liverpool 3-1 as a Premiership club in arguably the greatest result in the clubs history. Just over 2 years on we are sat just outside the relegation zone in the Championship with hardly any of the players that featured in that game still at the club, infact only Ivar Ingimarsson and Brynjar Gunnarsson started then that could possibly start on Saturday evening.
The Reds have had a bad season themselves, knocked out of the Champions League, out of the title race and struggling to even make the top 4 in the Premiership. Things have picked up over the festive period though and they have beaten Wolves and Aston Villa in the build up to this game.
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, 'Its always been important but you know that when you are out of the Champions League the people think about Silverware and the FA cup is very, very important for us. We want to progress and go as far as we can.'
Stand in Royals manager Brian McDermott, 'We had a meeting after Monday's game and we know it can't happen again, it mustn't happen again - and thats the key. Now we are going into a cup match against one of the biggest sides in the world and I think its good for us.'
Midfielder Brian Howard, who was part of the Barnsley side that knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup 2 years ago. 'The lads have got no pressure on them; We all know that we haven't been good enough this season and we are in a position that we don't want to be in but we need to resurrect ourselves as soon as possible.'
Jay Tabb and Marek Matejovsky are both injury doubts and are unlikely to feature in this 3rd round tie. Brian Howard is set to step up from the bench after recovering from a fractured cheekbone, and could be partnered in the middle of the park by Jem Karacan. Chris Armstrong, Julian Kelly and Noel Hunt remain on the sidelines and Gunnar Thorvaldsson cannot feature until next week under the terms of the international loan market.
The midfielder is set to return to the starting 11 against the Reds and Rafa Benitez will have unhappy memories of the player. He struck a last minute winner for Barnsley at Anfield 2 years ago to knock them out and he has promised to buy Royals fans a pint if he scores the winner again!
Glen Johnson will be missing for the Reds after he picked up a medial knee ligament injury in the win against Aston Villa and gives Rafa Benitez a headache with who to pay at right back. In the past this season he has shifted Jamie Carragher their with Martin Skertel and Dan Agger playing centre back. Javier Mascherano is still suspended following his recent red card against Portsmouth and Ferdando Torres is being closely monitered after a recent groin injury.
England midfielder Gerrard has been below par so far this season but in recent weeks has looked to be back to somewhat near his best. Will be looking to help his beloved Reds restore some pride and win this competition.
The last time we met at the Madejski Stadium was the only time the Royals have beaten the reds but we have only played each other 6 times. 4 times in the Premier League and Twice in the Carling Cup, so this will be the first time we have met in the World Oldest Cup competition.
Premier League ref Martin Atkinson will take charge of this one.
Can't see us getting anything from this one, can predict nothing but a comfortable away win.Royals 0-3 Liverpool.
Saturday 9th January 2010, Newcastle (H)
Date:Friday January 1 2010
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