Kenny Dalglish, Craig Bellamy, and Jay Spearing know that Liverpool has been the better team for much of the 180 minutes it has played against Manchester City this season. Each declared his intent to translate that into the scoreline when the two teams meet in the Carling Cup semifinals.
The Reds face the Premier League leader in a two-legged semifinal with a trip to Wembley Stadium on the line. The first leg takes place Wednesday at City’s Etihad Stadium, and the return trip is at Anfield on Jan. 25.
Last week, Spearing told LiverpoolFC.tv that City’s 3-0 win on Jan. 3 was much closer than the score suggests. If not for a couple of errors the Reds made at crucial moments, they could have taken at least a point from that meeting. The 23-year-old holding midfielder says improved focus will help the Reds get past their opponents.
“I thought as a team we did quite well overall. We used the ball well at times and just some lapses in concentration cost us the game,” Spearing said. “We know what we have to do better when we come back here next week in the Carling Cup and we will be better.
“We will get at them right from the off and I still feel we can cause them a lot of problems. They are going to be two massive games and I don’t see any reason why we can’t make the final.”
Bellamy played for City from 2009-11, before joining LFC at the close of the summer transfer window. The veteran attacker is not awed by City’s 100 percent home record in league play this season. He points to his team’s advantage in possession during last week’s contest, saying the Reds will not be afraid to impose their game on the home team.
“For me I didn’t believe the 3-0 scoreline was quite correct and this is not just me with my Liverpool head on, but if I was watching the game as a neutral we had 66 per cent of possession which is a lot for an away side, especially against a team of Man City’s calibre,” Bellamy said.
After last Tuesday’s game, Dalglish took a long-term view of the result. He celebrated the first anniversary of his return to Anfield (as manager), and spoke of the lessons his team learned in last week’s meeting. The Liverpool legend hopes to apply them not only to the semifinal meeting with England’s top team, but also to all opponents going forward.
“Obviously we’re not happy with what happened at Manchester City,” Dalglish said. “I don’t think the performance was too bad on the night but it’s a good education for us that we need to be a bit more clinical and a little bit more streetwise.
“It’s a work in progress. There were a lot of players who came in at the start of the season so it’s a good education for them.”
Photo via LiverpoolFC.tv