Liverpool will look to ensure one of the most tumultuous weeks in their recent history ends on a high when they go up against Brighton in the fifth round of the FA Cup at Anfield.
The Reds were rocked by criticism following their 2-1 defeat against Manchester United on Sunday after striker Luis Suarez refused to shake the hand of the man he had been banned for racially abusing, Patrice Evra.
Manager Kenny Dalglish’s post-match defence of Suarez also came in for criticism, while United boss Sir Alex Ferguson branded the former Ajax forward a ‘disgrace’ and insisted his behaviour could have incited a riot between the two sets of passionate fans.
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Both were forced to issue apologies for their actions this week and now they club will hope to switch the focus back to on-the-field matters, with a quarter final place in the FA Cup beckoning if they can negotiate their way past Championship outfit Brighton.
The Merseyside club have already secured one date at Wembley this season, with their Carling Cup final against Cardiff later this month, and now they’ll be looking to make it two in two domestic cup competitions.
The Seagulls may have seen their lightning early season form drop off somewhat but their recent run of five wins and two draws in their last seven games means that a play-off sport remains a realistic target.
Gus Poyet’s side were able to dispatch Premier League opponents in the fourth round to set up a date with Liverpool.
Newcastle succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at the Flamer Stadium thanks to a Mike Williamson own goal, and now Brighton will be looking to make it two upsets in as many rounds when they travel to Anfield.
Liverpool should be able to call upon the services of Jose Enrique after the full-back picked up a knock against United, while Dalglish’s only other absence through injury is Lucas Leiva, who has been ruled out for the season.