Liverpool players will be fighting for a starting berth in the FA Cup final when they travel to Norwich in the Premier League on Saturday.
With the trip to Carrow Road coming just a week before the Wembley showpiece against Chelsea, places in Kenny Dalglish’s side are up for grabs according to defender Jamie Carragher.
“It’s all to play for in terms of cup final places,” Carragher told the club’s official website.
“But we’re going into these games to get three points because we need to move up the table. Of course, if you perform well in these games, you have a greater chance of playing in the final.”
“And certainly, we all want to play in the big games. There are two games now before the final and I’m sure the manager will mix it up because the Fulham game is just before the cup final.”
“Saturday’s match could have a similar effect to the Blackburn game. If you look at that game, I think a few of the players forced themselves into the side against Everton (the FA Cup semi-final, which Liverpool won 2-1) through their performances against Blackburn.”
With so much on the line, Liverpool fans can expect a better performance than their last one in the Premier League, which saw them slump to a 1-0 home defeat against West Bromwich Albion.
Once again luck was not on Liverpool’s side but their league form is alarming, with Dalglish’s men having won just three of their 15 matches in 2012.
Norwich have also tailed off slightly, winning just two of their last 10 league encounters after a brilliant start to the season.
Safety was Norwich’s main goal this season and it has been secured comfortably, but the challenge is now for Paul Lambert’s side to finish strongly and win themselves a top-half finish.
Liverpool are just as concerned about remaining inside the top-10, with home matches against Fulham and Chelsea and a tricky trip to Swansea City to follow Saturday’s fixture.
Both sides have minor injury lists, with Charlie Adam and Lucas Leiva (both knee) the only long-term casualties for Liverpool, who are likely to welcome inspirational skipper Steven Gerrard (hamstring) back for the match.
Former Liverpool defenders Zak Whitbread (calf) and Daniel Ayala (knee) have been sidelined recently for Norwich, although the former could return in this fixture.
Grant Holt’s second-half leveller saw Norwich get a point at Anfield in October and they will head into the fixture with belief they can at least avoid defeat again.
But with so much to play for, an improved performance from Liverpool is expected as they build up to their second cup final of the season.