Winning FA Cup is tougher than Liverpool's Europa League mission

By Ian Rush on Jan 12, 10 08:00 AM in Columnists

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LIVERPOOL need to fly out of the blocks to ensure they wreck Reading's hopes of causing an FA Cup upset at Anfield tomorrow night.

The competition represents the Reds' best hope of winning a trophy this season and it's vital we don't give the Championship club a sniff of glory.

Too often this season we've started matches sluggishly, but against Reading we need to play with a high tempo and ensure they are on the back foot from the opening minute.

If we do that then they will find it very difficult to keep us out. What we can't afford to do is allow them to settle otherwise their confidence will grow.

Reading played very well in the 1-1 draw at their place. Maybe their best chance of victory has gone but there is no doubt they will raise their game.

It's a big deal for their players to play at Anfield and they will revel in it.

We've been shocked in recent years by clubs like Burnley and Barnsley. And if we need any further warning about complacency you only have to look at what Leeds recently did to Manchester United

The lesson is clear - if you aren't up for it, then you will get found out.

The FA Cup is a fantastic competition and I think it provides more of a challenge for Liverpool than the Europa League.

With European ties being over two legs you can afford to have one bad game and get away with it.

In Europe you also know exactly what style of football to expect.

But the FA Cup is about one-off matches where anything can happen and that's what makes it so exciting.

We should approach tomorrow with confidence on the back of three unbeaten games and the draw for the next round provides a major incentive.

A home game is all you can ask for and having beaten Burnley at home once this season we would fancy our chances of going even further.

Once you get to the last 16 you start to think about going all the way.

I know supporters desperately want a trip to the new Wembley and I'm sure they will turn out in force tomorrow and get behind the players.

Let's hope this is the start of a memorable run. After what's happened so far this season we certainly need one.

Liverpool can't allow Stoke to bully them

IT was frustrating that Sunday's game against Spurs was called off but the safety of supporters is more important than football.

Anyway, the break could prove to be a blessing in disguise with players having a few extra days to get over niggling injuries.

The hardest thing when the weather is so bad is keeping everyone match fit and focused.

When it was like this when I played the manager would take us away to a hotel where we would do plenty of swimming and relaxing.

Of course things have changed now and with better facilities these days it's easier to get more done.

Our next league game is at Stoke on Saturday and that's going to be a very difficult test.

I know Tony Pulis from when he was doing his Pro Licence in Wales and he has done a great job.

He knows Stoke's limitations and ensures they play to their strengths.

We have to make sure we don't get bullied and that we match them physically.

We've let a lot of goals in from corners and free-kicks this season and you can bet Tony will have analysed all of them.

They will be working on their set-pieces all week so we have to be wary.

Rafa Benitez right to sell off Anfield flops

RAFA BENITEZ was right to off-load Andrea Dossena and Andriy Voronin.

Both players struggled to adapt to the demands of English football and there was no point persevering with them. They were too inconsistent but I'm sure they will do well at clubs where the pressure isn't as great.

Maybe a return to Italy will suit Dossena better, while in Russia Voronin will be able to get his confidence back.

Ryan Babel's future is the subject of speculation with Birmingham having a bid rejected.

If the boss isn't going to get that money to spend then he's better off keeping him.

Anyway, it seems Babel wants to stay and fight for his place. If that's the case he must get his head down, work hard and ensure he takes the next chance he gets.

It's time he did his talking on the pitch.

Maxi Rodriguez would be a major boost

MAXI RODRIGUEZ is expected to sign for Liverpool and his arrival this week would be a major boost.

I've seen a fair bit of him over the years for Atletico Madrid and have always rated him.

He's a real threat on the right wing and would be a very good addition to the squad.

The price tag of £1.5million for an Argentinean international is no risk and I'm sure it will prove to be a great piece of business.

I can't wait to see him link up with Steven Gerrard and his old mate, Fernando Torres.

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