Liverpool will fancy their chances of progressing to the last four of the FA Cup with victory at home to Blackburn Rovers on Sunday (16:00 GMT, live on BT Sport).
The Reds come into the match on the back of an excellent run of form that has seen them win eight and lose just one of their last 10 matches in all competitions. They are fifth in the Premier League table, with 51 points from 15 wins, six draws and seven defeats.
Brendan Rodgers’ side recorded their fourth straight league victory with a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Burnley on Wednesday. They comfortably out-shot and out-possessed their visitors, with goals in either half from Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge (pictured) seeing them follow their impressive win over Manchester City with another three points.
Liverpool have surged into the top-four race on the back of a 12-match unbeaten run in league play. They had looked unlikely to mount such a challenge before Christmas – when they were six places and nine points shy of fourth – but the switch to a 3-4-2-1 formation and improved contributions from some of their summer signings have seen them close the gap.
The Reds are now just two points behind Manchester United in fourth and have reason to be optimistic of overtaking their historical rivals before the end of the campaign. They have been more solid in defence and more fluid in attack since the change of formation and while a top-four finish remains their priority, success in the FA Cup would also not go amiss.
Rodgers will definitely be without the injured Brad Jones (thigh), Jon Flanagan (knee), Jordan Ibe (knee) and Lucas Leiva (groin) for this match, while Mamadou Sakho (hip) and Steven Gerrard (hamstring) are doubtful.
Blackburn Rovers travel to Anfield having snapped a four-match winless streak with a 2-1 victory away to Sheffield Wednesday in midweek. They are 10th in the Championship table, with 48 points from 12 wins, 12 draws and 11 defeats.
Goals from Jordan Rhodes and Adam Henley saw Gary Bowyer’s side race into a two-goal lead inside the opening half-hour at Hillsborough on Wednesday. Their hosts pulled one back on the hour mark, but Rovers were able to hold on and take all three points. Afterwards, Bowyer praised his side for the bravery of their play on what was a difficult playing surface.
The club’s excellent performances in the FA Cup, which have seen them overcome Premier League sides Swansea and Stoke in the last two rounds, have not been consistently matched in the Championship. They are 13 points shy of the top six and 17 points clear of the bottom three, leaving them with little to play for in the final months of the season.
With both the 11th best goals total and the 11th best defensive record in the division, alongside a current goal difference of zero, Rovers are a thoroughly average side. They do, however, still possess a few players capable of causing problems, including joint top-scorers Rhodes and Rudy Gestede and midfielder Ben Marshall.
Bowyer will definitely be without the injured Jason Lowe (foot), Joshua King (hamstring) and Shane Duffy (knee) for Sunday’s match, while Alex Baptiste (hamstring) and Grant Hanley (leg) are doubtful.
Liverpool vs Blackburn Rovers Betting Tips
Liverpool were 3-2 winners at Ewood Park when these sides last met back in April 2012 and generally have a very good recent record against Blackburn, having won six and lost just one of their last 10 meetings in all competitions. Blackburn’s last win at Anfield came over 20 years ago but Liverpool were held at home by Championship side Bolton in the fourth round.
Liverpool have progressed past AFC Wimbledon, Bolton and Crystal Palace to reach the sixth round and will expect to make it through to the last four with a clean victory on Sunday. Rodgers is likely to make a few changes to his normal starting XI but with morale high on the back of a strong run of form, that is unlikely to have a huge effect on their performance level.
Blackburn have already defeated two Premier League sides on route to the last eight and will be determined to take another scalp at Anfield. However, both of those victories came at Ewood Park and their away form this season has not been particularly impressive. The win in Sheffield on Wednesday was their first away victory in the league since last October. With that in mind, it should be a fairly comfortable victory for Liverpool.
- Back Liverpool -1.5 on an Asian Handicap @ best odds of 6/7 with BetVictor.
- After Sunday, Liverpool have over a week of rest ahead of their next match, so Rodgers has no imperative to make wholesale changes. Sturridge scored his third goal since his return from injury on Wednesday and should be fancied to add to their tally against Blackburn. Back Daniel Sturridge to score at anytime @ 19/20 with Ladbrokes.