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8.2.06

Fixture can cause deterioration in league results

The fixture congestion that was always likely is about to hit Liverpool FC and the most likely result is that league form will suffer. Already crucial players are suffering niggles and needing 'to rest' inevitably weakening the team. With the title having gone west the question is now going to boil down to whether Rafa Benitez targets fighting for second place place above either the Champions League or the FA Cup.

Usually you would suppose that Rafa Benitez would see a second place finish as being far more important than the FA Cup - but there is a small indication that this is not the case. At the time Pepe Reina was sent off late on against Chelsea, tons of Liverpool fans would have instantly recoiled with horror at the idea that Jerzy Dudek would be in goal for the fifth round FA Cup match against Manchester United.

It's important to keep in mind that Dudek probably has pleasant dreams about playing against Milan interrupted by the thought that even cushioned back-headers can be slippery against that lot.

Fortunately Liverpool had rearranged the fixtures against Charlton and Arsenal FC to fill up the the next two midweeks meaning Reina's suspension will be completed before the FA Cup tie. If Liverpool had appealed against the ban then the hearing would have been heard on Thursday of this week, meaning that the Charlton games would not have been included in the ban. If the three match ban had been upheld then Reina would face missing the cup tie.
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