Back in early October, Blackpool sent shockwaves through the Premier League by travelling to Liverpool and conquering Anfield. It was a body blow for the Reds, and was also one of the low points of former boss Roy Hodgson’s short stint as manager.
During that game, Luke Varney went down in the area as the referee pointed to the spot. Charlie Adam converted in front of the Kop to give his side a shock lead on Merseyside, before Varney doubled the advantage. A header from Sotirios Kyrgiakos eventually proved to be nothing more than a consolation as the victory served to justify the Seasiders’ arrival in the top-flight.
A little over three months have passed since then, and the visitors’ boss Ian Holloway probably feels that his charges can do the double over their more illustrious opponents. He fielded a line-up of several fringe players during the club’s recent FA Cup trip to Southampton, in a game that the travellers lost.
But he should call on his regulars for this encounter, in the hope of repeating the performance put in at Anfield to carve out a similar result.
The latter days of Roy Hodgson’s bitter reign on Merseyside saw him lose the fans completely, as the club’s supporters roundly chanted for his head by calling for the appointment of the legendary Kenny Dalglish.
One could very well argue that the results may not have been a true reflection of the former Fulham manager’s capability, as he was unable to mould the squad to his liking by flexing some muscle in the transfer window. But the Merseysiders have parted ways with the 63-year-old now, and have given the fans what they wanted - King Kenny.
Dalglish’s return to management after a decade-long hiatus began in poor fashion as a controversial penalty coupled with the sending off of his skipper Steven Gerrard ended in a defeat to bitter rivals Manchester United - which in turn meant that the Reds were knocked out of the FA Cup.
However, the feel good factor around the club will have trickled down into the squad as well, and could in turn translate into a positive performance on the pitch.
The Scot will have to capitalize on the initial boost that his appointment has given the team to capture nothing less than all three points at Bloomfield Road to retain hope of salvaging a morose season and qualifying for next season’s Europa League.
The Seasiders have no fresh injury worries ahead of this game, but Elliot Grandin (hamstring), Malaury Martin (knee), Chris Basham (broken leg), Marlon Harewood (hamstring), Matt Gilks (knee) and Billy Clarke (knee) are all expected to remain sidelined.
Manager Ian Holloway fielded several fringe players during the recent defeat to Southampton and will likely revert to his preferred first-choice players once more.
Possible starting XI: Kingson; Eardley, Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey; Phillips, Adam, Vaughan; Taylor-Fletcher, Campbell, Varney
The club’s talismanic skipper Steven Gerrard is suspended for this game, as he saw red in the FA Cup defeat to Manchester United.
Jamie Carragher (shoulder) and Jay Spearing (ankle) remain sidelined. The former will remain unavailable for some more time as he recovers from surgery, while the latter is back in training and still working on getting back to full fitness.
Possible starting XI: Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Aurelio; Kuyt, Meireles, Lucas, Maxi; Babel, Torres