Liverpool will visit Blackpool today determined to erase memories of their sensational loss to a club who were widely tipped as relegation certainties.
Ian Holloway’s side were written off before a ball was kicked at Anfield back in October but goals from Charlie Adam and Luke Varney helped the Tangerines to a famous and well-deserved win over their north-west rivals.
That was the lowest moment of Roy Hodgson’s managerial tenure with the Reds and he is still reminded of it constantly, despite Liverpool having improved considerably since then.
“That defeat was a bad result, especially with it being at home and we want to prove we can do better and win this game,” Liverpool striker David Ngog said.
“The team wasn’t so confident and we didn’t play very well but I think we are a different team now,” he said. “We are a lot better and more confident and we hope we can show that on Boxing Day [today].”
Liverpool may be ninth in the Premier League table but they are only ahead of Blackpool on goal difference and Ngog added: “Blackpool have done really well this season. They have played some good football and they have shown they can surprise any team on their day.”
Liverpool will be able to call on Steven Gerrard and Daniel Agger, who have recovered from hamstring and calf injuries respectively, and the Reds will need them if they are continue on the slow path to recovery after their worse opening to a season for 57 years.
Yet despite that, Hodgson has not entirely given up his hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.
“We are in a position to strike for the top four but we are a good few [nine] points off,” Hodgson said. “Some people would say it is pie in the sky to suggest we can do it but I don’t think there is.”
Blackpool’s win over Liverpool was one of the highlights of the season so far, with Holloway’s side continuing to defy expectations as they remain the “feel-good” story of the year in English soccer.
“It’s the best any side I’ve ever had have played I think,” Holloway told www.blackpoolfc.co.uk as he recalled that victory at Anfield.
“I’ll never forget the following morning when I woke up and thought ‘I’ve just been to Anfield, I’ve heard their crowd sing that wonderful song ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ — which was my dad’s favorite — and we actually beat them,” he said.
“Now we are starting to believe that we deserve those types of performances and results, so long may it continue,” Holloway said.
For Blackpool, Matt Gilks, Chris Basham, Billy Clarke (all knee), Marlon Harewood (hamstring) and Louis Almond (shoulder) remain sidelined by injury while Jay Spearing (ankle) and Jamie Carragher (shoulder) will both be missing for Liverpool.
The Tangerines will hold a pitch inspection three hours before the scheduled 3pm kick-off as their Bloomfield Road ground, which does not have undersoil heating, could yet fall victim to the cold weather currently engulfing Britain.