Liverpool to warm up for FA Cup finale at Fulham

Wants to field strong side ahead of Chelsea clash

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has insisted he will field a strong line-up for the Premier League meeting with Fulham at Anfield on Tuesday, even though the fixture comes just four days before the showpiece FA Cup Final clash with Chelsea at Wembley.

The Merseyside club made five changes for Saturday's league visit to Norwich where they recorded an impressive 3-0 win thanks to a hat-trick from controversial Uruguay striker Luis Suarez.

Forward Andy Carroll was left out of the Liverpool squad entirely at Carrow Road with a slight injury as Dalglish clearly kept an eye on Wembley where Liverpool have the chance to put a dismal league campaign behind them by adding the FA Cup to the League Cup they have already won this season.

Suarez's devastating performance at Norwich must surely mean he has a chance of being rested against Fulham, although his manager was adamant that whatever line-up he fielded on Tuesday would represent a strong side.

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"I just know he played very well," Dalglish said of Suarez. "He scored three fantastic goals and we get three well-deserved points.

"Other people can catalogue his performances, and put them in level of importance for us, but it's just important that he plays for this football club," the Liverpool and Scotland great added.

"He's a fantastic footballer, nothing he does surprises you, whether it's his vision or passing, his shots or his goals. It doesn't surprise you. We're just delighted that we have him playing for us.

"We'll pick a side on Tuesday night that does this club justice. I think we have conducted ourselves well in all the league games and cup competitions that we've played and I see no reason why that would change."

Given Liverpool's wretched home league form - just five wins from 17 games this season and, now, more points on their travels than at Anfield - Dalglish is presumably desperate to win their remaining two home fixtures, against Fulham and Chelsea.

And Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard recognised the importance of taking on the Champions League finalists Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday with the confidence of another victory behind them.

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"We want to go into the final in good form," Gerrard told the club's website. "We've got a game against Fulham now which we want to win and then we can get ready for Chelsea.

"I'm happy with the way things are going at the moment. On a personal level I was left out as a precaution last weekend but I'm fine and ready to enjoy the end of the season."

Fulham's hopes of finishing in seventh spot were hit when their four-game unbeaten run was ended by Everton's comprehensive 4-0 victory over Martin Jol's side on Saturday.

Australia international Mark Schwarzer, Fulham's goalkeeper, said he hoped the defeat would spark a positive reaction at Anfield.

"Some pretty harsh words were said in the dressing room at half time and after the game so hopefully we can pick ourselves up and make sure we perform far, far better against Liverpool," Schwarzer said.

"We need to because otherwise it's going to be a very difficult week."

Suarez treble lifts Liverpool

Luis Suarez warmed up for next week's FA Cup final with a hat-trick in Liverpool's 3-0 win at Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday while high-flying Newcastle United were thumped 4-0 at lowly Wigan Athletic.

Third-placed Arsenal, who have taken two points out of a possible nine, drew 1-1 at Stoke City where newly-elected Footballer of the Year Robin van Persie's 28th league goal of the season cancelled out Peter Crouch's opener for the home side.

A glut of goals came on a cold, rainy day when the top two - Manchester United and Manchester City - were not in action because they meet in a title decider on Monday while Champions League and FA Cup finalists Chelsea do not play until Sunday.

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Saturday's seven matches produced 25 goals and the biggest shock came at the DW Stadium where Wigan dented Newcastle's dreams of a Champions League place next season and boosted their own survival hopes with an emphatic victory.

The outstanding individual performance of the day belonged to Uruguay striker Suarez who scored a contender for goal of the season eight minutes from time when he lobbed Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy from 45 metres.

"He (Suarez) is one of the best in the world on his day. Today was his day and as a team we could have had two or three goals more," Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard told ESPN television.

Liverpool farce has Reds stuck with Kuyt

The farce at Liverpool continues with Kenny Dalglish’s throne increasingly coming under attack – even from within the faithful at Anfield.

After dropping a jaw-dropping 27 points at home this season, Kenny in comments to British press, has blamed the anomaly on bad luck.

After news yesterday that Liverpool might face the rough prospect of losing their best player of the season Luis Suarez, but keeping flop of the season Andy Carroll, more transfer rumours to emerge at the Kop are not exactly inspiring.

The latest, according to the Daily Mail, Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez could stay at Anfield next season after Liverpool has supposedly changed the stance they had taken on their futures.

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When one considers Kuyt’s scoring record, and his blinding miss in front of goal, it can hardly encourage Liverpool fans that Kuyt and Rodriguez who had been earmarked to move on, might be saved for Liverpool’s will Europa Cup run.

It’s now a bit passé to talk about price tags. Especially given that with each passing game Andy Carroll’s reduces to a level that Liverpool can’t even contemplate getting rid of him.

Maybe that is why manager Kenny Dalglish is not talking about letting his 35-million pound blunder go.


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