Liverpool v Cardiff (Match Preview)
Cardiff City travel to Anfield tonight for the Carling Cup third round match with Liverpool FC.
Who knows what Reds side Rafa Benitez will field, but his policy is to include a large pool of first team players over the season so the cups are crucial to keeper these players fit and ready. That means that there are likely to be several top class players included to face us tonight - a formidable task for any team but especially a malfunctioning, under-performing team under pressure.
There have been some snippets of likely team news from Anfield, Peter Crouch and Harry Kewell are both expected to feature, though Jermaine Pennant is definately out with a fractured tibia.
There is no news on whether the big guns Steven Gerrard, Sami Hyypia, Dirk Kuyt, Carragher etc will play but Liverpool have been through an intensive spell including a tough draw against Arsenal on Sunday. Some players will need to be rested, but Benitez is serious about the competition and is not taking the Bluebirds lightly.
In a way, the game might suit Cardiff City's style. Mistakes will be punished, and our defensive work will need to improve drastically, but Liverpool will not be trying to close our game down, something we continually struggle with. Stephen McPhail often benefits from the extra space afforded in these conditions and after dominating Spurs in the FA Cup last year, this squad could certainly compete.
However, improvements must be made and players must be at the top of their game. It's a great chance for the likes of Ledley, Johnson and McNaughton to showcase their talent and potential while the likes of Hasselbaink, Fowler and Sinclair will relish their chance to mix with the big boys again.
It will be an emotional return to Anfield for Robbie Fowler, still idolised on Merseyside and a true Reds hero.
It promises to be a great night for the 5000 strong Cardiff City support. Hopefully the team can put in a performance and make us all proud.