Swansea City-Liverpool Preview
LONDON (SE) - Swansea make the trip to Anfield to play Liverpool on Sunday afternoon in the only Premier League fixture of a weekend dominated by cup action.
With the rest of the weekend's top domestic action based around the FA Cup fifth round, the Swans (9-10-7) are squeezing in a league fixture ahead of next weekend's Capital One Cup final against Bradford City at Wembley. With the big day looming for the Welsh club, they first face a side managed by former boss Brendan Rodgers, and defender Kyle Bartley is hoping for a win to take into next weekend's showpiece.
"Liverpool is another massive match as is every game in the Premier League. They're all important," said Bartley whilst on the club's training camp in Dubai this week. "We don't feel safe yet, we need to keep going and progress.
"We will go there, play our own game and hopefully get a positive result. It would be nice to take a bit of confidence from that going into the final. We expect a tough game - it always is at Anfield."
Hosts Liverpool (9-9-8) will be looking to respond to consecutive defeats going into Sunday's game. Still reeling from a 2-0 setback against West Bromwich Albion in the league, Brendan Rodgers' side were beaten by the same scoreline in St Petersburg as they were put firmly on the back foot in a tricky Europa League tie against big-spenders Zenit.
"What gives us great hope is that we created enough tonight to win the game," said Rodgers after the defeat in Russia. "In six to 12 months we won't be making those mistakes. This is a group that is growing and has come together. And this is part of our growing pains as a group.
"We've put in some terrific performances this season and not always got the results. We have to be more clinical and that is something that, over the coming months, will certainly take place."
Liverpool are without Martin Kelly (knee), but January signing Philippe Coutinho may feature after making his debut for the club as a substitute against West Brom. Swansea are without Neil Taylor (ankle) for the rest of the season, while Chico Flores is out with an ankle problem that threatens to rule him out of the cup final. Midfielder Leon Britton (ankle) is expected to be given more time to recover ahead of the visit to Wembley after returning to full training.
Swansea have lost just one in nine in the league, but have also won just three in that time. Liverpool have won just once in their last five league contests, and are yet to beat a team ranked in the top-half of the table (Swansea are seventh going into Sunday's game).
Luis Suarez has 17 goals, the most for a Liverpool player since Fernando Torres had 18 in 2009-10. Swansea attacker Michu is also one goal away from sharing a stat with Torres - he would join 'El Nino' as the only Spanish players to have scored 15 goals in a Premier League season (Torres achieved the feat in both 2007-08 and 2009-10).
These teams drew 0-0 when they met at the Liberty Stadium back in November, but Swansea won 3-1 at Anfield in their Capital One Cup run. Liverpool have yet to beat the Swans in three league games since the Welsh club returned to the top flight.