Liverpool v Everton preview


Merseyside pride and a place in the FA Cup final will be at stake when Liverpool and Everton rekindle their fierce rivalry at Wembley Stadium.

A semi-final showdown at the home of English football appears to have all the makings of a cup classic, with derby tensions adding extra spice to what is always a special occasion.

The decision to host the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley has been questioned by many, but fixtures such as this deserve the grandest of stages.

Both sides will make the journey to the capital on Saturday buoyed by successful showings in their last Premier League outings.

Liverpool finally got back to winning ways at Blackburn on Tuesday and took the opportunity at Ewood Park to rest key men, meaning they have fresh legs to call upon.

Everton swept aside Sunderland, the side they saw off in the quarter-finals of the cup, atGoodison Park and are now unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions.

League form tends to go out of the window in knockout football, though, and the fact that local bragging rights have been added to the mix means anything is possible this weekend.

Liverpool and Everton do have previous when it comes to FA Cup meetings, and contests at Wembley.

The Toffees have emerged victorious in the last two cup dates between the two, with replay successes earned in 2009 and 1991.

Liverpool have prevailed when it matters most, though, with all-Merseyside finals in 1986 and 1989 going the way of the Reds.

Kenny Dalglish’s side have also tasted Wembley glory once already this season, with the Carling Cup tucked away in their trophy cabinet.

Keeper issues

Goalkeeper Brad Jones is set to make his first start since December 2010 as Liverpool prepare to turn to their third-choice shot-stopper.

The Australian comes into the side in place of suspended duo Jose Reina and Alexander Doni.

Defenders Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson are pushing for starting places having both made their comebacks from injury in the midweek win at Blackburn.

Steven Gerrard, Jose Enrique and Luis Suarez were left on the bench at Ewood Park, but they are expected to come back into Dalglish’s starting XI on Saturday.


Strongest side

Everton manager David Moyes is set to revert to his strongest line-up after resting a number of players on Easter Monday.

Defender Leighton Baines, midfielder Tim Cahill and striker Nikica Jelavic are all set to return having been left out of the squad for the 4-0 win over Sunderland.

On-loan Tottenham midfielder Steven Pienaar is cup-tied but Darron Gibson will return to the team having been an unused substitute earlier in the week.