Five reasons for Liverpool to be optimistic ahead of the FA Cup semi final
The one shining light in what remains of Liverpool's season is the prospect of a second trophy on the horizon.
April 10th, 2012
The one shining light in what remains of Liverpool’s season is the prospect of a second trophy on the horizon. Since their success over Cardiff in the Carling Cup final, the Reds have taken just one win from six in the Premier League, any hope of a top four finish crumbling before their eyes. They have had just one thing to hold on to, and that is the thought of a cup double. Now standing in their way are Everton, a Merseyside derby semi final which will stir memories of when the competition was at its height, and it shouldn’t all be doom and gloom for the red half of the city. Here are five reasons why they can emerge victorious and book a third trip to Wembley.
1) Liverpool 3 – 0 Everton, 13th March 2012
That solitary league victory in this horrific run (indeed one of only two they have secured in the whole of 2012) came at the expense of Everton last month. On the back of defeats against Arsenal and Sunderland, the Reds lined up against their rivals, who were buoyant from the celebrations of David Moyes’ ten year anniversary at the club, and delivered a superb performance led by Steven Gerrard. There is something about this fixture which can galvanise even a squad playing poorly, and if ever there was a time that Liverpool needed such a lift it is now. Their lacklustre defeat at Newcastle was just the latest in a long line of poor performances, and perhaps it will take the local pride of a derby to get them firing once more.
2) Semi final record
Only once in their last eight FA Cup semi final appearances (dating back to 1986) have Liverpool failed to advance to the final. That came in the 1990 defeat to Crystal Palace, and in each of their four semi finals since, the Reds have won; the last of which was the 2006 victory over Chelsea. It is an excellent record, and if one is looking to history for omens certainly bears well for Liverpool. As does the fact that in the four semi finals played between Liverpool and Everton, the Reds have only lost once, back in 1906. The most recent semi final meeting between the two sides came in 1977, when Liverpool triumphed 3-0 at Maine Road in a replay.
3) 2012 Cup form
While Liverpool’s league form has fallen apart since the turn of the year, their form in the two cup competitions has been a beacon of light. They have faced seven cup games so far in 2012, winning five of them and drawing two. And they haven’t exactly been easy games. Amongst the convincing victories over Oldham and Brighton, there have been wins over Manchester City, Manchester United and Stoke; a run of games which were hardly expected to yield simple successes. It remains the case that Liverpool are far more suited this season to the one-off occasion rather than the long slog of league form, and so there is every chance that Everton could be added to that list.
4) David Moyes’ record against Liverpool
For all that David Moyes has done a very good job in his decade with Everton, his record against Liverpool leaves a lot to be desired. In all competitions Moyes has faced Liverpool twenty two times since taking charge on the 14th March 2002 yet has managed only four wins. With six draws and twelve Liverpool victories, it could be argued that Moyes and Everton can hold out little hope for victory, though the one time that the two sides met in the FA Cup during those ten years did yield Everton success thanks to Dan Gosling’s extra time goal. In general though, Moyes and Merseyside derbies are not a good mix, and surely another omen in the favour of the Reds.
5) Form ‘goes out of the window’
So says the often repeated cliché about derby games, and frankly that’s a good thing for Liverpool in their current state. Only Wolverhampton Wanderers have collected fewer Premier League points than Kenny Dalglish’s men in 2012 while only Stoke and Aston Villa have scored fewer goals. There is no way to look kindly on Liverpool’s form since the turn of the year; in both performance and result they have been a long way from what is expected. Everton, on the other hand, have secured fourteen points more than the Reds in that time, averaging more than double the points per game than Liverpool have managed. Based purely on current form, Everton should be clear favourites for the game, so the notion that it should be discounted from the equation for these matches is certainly to the benefit of the Anfield club.
There are undoubtedly reasons for Liverpool fans to be optimistic about reaching their first FA Cup final since 2006, and in doing so prolong their hopes of being able to look back on the season as a successful one. But whatever the omens, Everton will provide a stiff challenge, and would love nothing more to celebrate Moyes’ ten years than to dump Liverpool out of the competition.
Words by Simon Furnivall, read the rest of his Liverpool blog on Footballscores.com.