On Wednesday Liverpool travel to Lancashire to face second-tier Bolton Wanderers in an FA Cup fourth round replay with the winner facing Crystal Palace away on Feb. 14.
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With Liverpool unbeaten in their last seven Premier League games and challenging for a top four spot once again, you could forgive Brendan Rodgers for putting out a weakened side against Bolton. But the importance of winning the FA Cup has taken on a new significance in recent weeks.
After Steven Gerrard (who will make his 700 appearance for the Reds on Wednesday) announced his plans to join the LA Galaxy and head to Major League Soccer at the end of the current season, Liverpool are hell bent on reaching the final at Wembley on May 30 and giving their legendary captain a fitting farewell. But a stubborn and rejuvenated Bolton side stand in their way on Wednesday, as former Celtic boss Neil Lennon has got the Trotters storming up the Championship and away from relegation as he puts the building blocks in place for a strong promotion push next season.
That said, Liverpool should easily beat Bolton at the Macron Stadium on a chilly January evening. But with former Reds striker Emile Heskey basically coming out of retirement and former Chelsea and Barcelona Eidur Gudjohnsen doing the same, Bolton have plenty of experience and will make it difficult for Liverpool to break them down in front of a fired up home crowd. Just like they did at Anfield in the 0-0 draw last Saturday.
“They are experienced. Emile Heskey and [Eidur] Gudjohnsen have been around the block, and caused us a few problems, especially on the break in the first half,” Liverpool’s Adam Lallana told the FA.com. “The manager adjusted that at half-time, I remember, but it might be a different game going to their place. They might come at us a little bit more, which might make the game a little bit different. But we’re still going to show them the respect they deserve. We know it’s going to be a tough game.”
Will Daniel Surridge start for the first time in over five months after his return from injury? How will USMNT defender Tim Ream play? Will Gerrard lead his side through to the last 16?
So many storylines going into this match, which you can follow live right here.