The Championship team have already taken two Premier League scalps this year in the FA Cup but Andy Tongue is confident they won’t make it a hat-trick when they visit Anfield…
Liverpool v Blackburn
Sunday 8 March
FA Cup Sixth Round
16:00 Live on BT Sport 1
Brendan Rodgers’ men are arguably the best side in the country on current form – only Chelsea and Jose Mourinho could contest that tag right now – and will be confident of coming through this tie to reach the last four. Out of the Europa Cup they have twin targets for the season now – finish in the top four and let Steven Gerrard end his Liverpool career by lifting the FA Cup. You wouldn’t want to lay either the way they are playing.
They have won five in a row at home (since being held 0-0 by Bolton in the fourth round) and conceded just once in the last three of those victories. The Reds are now unbeaten at Anfield since November 8th when they lost to Chelsea.
Rogders seems to have handled Daniel Sturridge superbly, easing him back into the side after injury and the England striker is usually red-hot when it comes to the FA Cup – he has 10 goals in his last 12 FA Cup starts.
The Championship side have disposed of Swansea and Stoke in the last two rounds 3-1 and 4-1 respectively, although both wins did come at Ewood Park. Nestled comfortably in mid-table, they have nothing left to play for in the league so will be able to throw everything at this cup-tie and will be backed by 6,000 travelling fans.
Gary Bowyer‘s men warmed up nicely for this clash with an impressive 2-1 win at in-form Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday night with star striker Jordan Rhodes opening the scoring and he’ll relish the chance to show a television audience what he can do against Premier League defenders.
Rovers don’t have a great recent record at Anfield having won none of their last 11 visits (D4 L7) since their last victory in January 2000, which was also the last time they met in the FA Cup. Their finest day, of course, came at Liverpool 20 years ago when they sealed the Premier League title, despite losing to a last-minute goal, courtesy of events elsewhere.
Half Time/Full Time
Liverpool have progressed on 15 of the last 16 occasions they have reached the FA Cup quarter-finals and for me the only question here is how we can profit from confidently expecting them do so again.
Those who like to oppose the short-priced big boys will point to Chelsea and Man City crashing out at home to Middlesbrough and Bradford as well as the Reds being held 0-0 in the fourth round by Bolton and might be tempted to lay them at 1.3130/100 – with a view to cashing out for a profit if the visitors keep it scoreless for the first half.
But the Premier League team are in full flight now and crucially they are back to just the one game a week – not playing again after this until a week on Monday.
That means Rodgers can send out as strong a side as he wishes and we should expect to see an XI not too far off full-strength to ensure his men win this at the first time of asking, particularly as they hardly needed to get out of second gear in Wednesday’s routine 2-0 win over Rovers’ great rivals Burnley.
Rovers’ wins over Swansea and Stoke also came in low-key Saturday lunchtime kick-offs at a half-empty Ewood – this will be a very different kettle of fish in front of an Anfield sell-out.
With the likes of Sturridge, Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho – not to mention Mario Balotelli – Liverpool will have too much firepower for their lower league opponents, who have only managed four wins away from home this season. You can back Rogers’ side at 1.865/6 to be winning at half time/full time and that looks the best bet here.
Sturridge’s great FA Cup scoring record is noted above and he netted against Burnley on Wednesday. With a break after this match, you would expect him to start here and if he does then he has to be backed to score at anytime.
The visitors have kept just one clean sheet in their last 14 games and won’t have encountered a striker with anything like his movement or finishing ability in the Championship.
Sturridge can’t be backed at better than the 1.738/11 available on the Sportsbook and I would normally steer away from taking a skinny price like this. But on the assumption that he will start and the number of chances the home side should create I think it is worth it on this occasion.
Back Liverpool to win at half time/full time at 1.865/6
Back Daniel Sturridge to score anytime at 1.738/11 with Sportsbook