There is something very special about the FA Cup. It might be a phrase we sometimes get a bit tired of hearing but there is no doubt it is an accurate statement. I challenge anyone to find a better example than Sunday afternoon's events in north London.
Generally I am confident we can win every game and Sunday was no different. Convincing myself we were capable of beating a team who had almost embarrassed us only last weekend was easy - by thinking about how well we defeated the very same side earlier this season. To overcome a team currently brimming with confidence would require sharpness, a little bit of luck and good old-fashioned hard work. If any of those ingredients were missing we could come unstuck.
Just as at Anfield, Liverpool started the game well and created two early chances. Good goalkeeping and that little bit of luck meant the major difference this time round was we didn't fall behind. As we all know, this was to prove as crucial this time round as it did last.
Ball retention is vital when playing against sides who are strong offensively and, after the early scare, we did this well, both creating chances of our own and a number of corners that increased the pressure. The second ball in from one such occasion saw Yaya strike the ball well on his impressive full debut and from the resulting block the Ox slotted home to get our noses in front. Cue a fine and noisy jostle all-round!
A good position come half-time became an excellent one early in the second period, more fantastic work from The Ox found Poldi's fine run and 'bang', our lead was doubled with all the pandemonium following shortly after.
Everyone has the opportunity to bounce back from league defeats but this is not the case in cup competitions. Consequently we all knew it could be quite a long half! Even more so when our visitors pulled one back from the spot.
Defensively we kept our shape extremely well and, although chances came and went for Liverpool, we too had some great opportunities to put the game to bed.
With victory and FA Cup progression in sight the atmosphere in the latter stages was absolutely awesome and I'm convinced this helped us get over that line. A fine, fine day.
I read somewhere that our victory "went a small way to achieving revenge for last week's defeat". You ask any Liverpool fan undertaking their long journey home if they feel any better than we did that Saturday afternoon. A 'small way' is very much an understatement as far as I am concerned.
The draw has made sure it is highly likely we will need to beat four of the other five teams in the current top six if we are to be successful in the FA Cup, but the two other competitions we are still fighting for are now high on the agenda. Our first hurdleis the small matter of a first-leg tie against the current European champions on Wednesday night.
Yet another quite awesome fixture for us all to look forward to.
Just like Sunday evening, we can play our part.
Come on you mighty reds!
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