West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic dismissed the idea that the Hammers are likely to play against a Liverpool side with key players missing - saying the Reds will still field a strong side in the late kick-off today (January 30).
Jurgen Klopp’s team have had a run of games in quick succession culminating in 120 minutes in Tuesday’s Capital One Cup semi-final win against Stoke City.
As a result it is thought the German will not field a full strength team in the FA Cup fourth round clash, perhaps dropping the likes of Roberto Firmino, Emre Can and Mahamadou Sakho
However Bilic knows that whatever side his West Ham team face it will be a challenge to overcome Liverpool at Anfield.
Bilic said: “Klopp will make some changes but I am not expecting many of the players who played 120 minutes on Tuesday to play on Saturday. We’re prepared to still face a strong Liverpool side and I know it won’t be the same players that played in the last round against Exeter City.”
Playing a lot in the first team might work to Liverpool's advantage, said Bilic, with players maintaining peak levels of sharpness.
“It's not as if they’ve had to play two games in three days like it was around Christmas,” said Biic.
“However, there is no better way to maintain than playing matches. If fitness did count then the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona would never be fit because of the Champions League.
"At Euro 2008 when I was managing Croatia three of the four teams that advanced from the group stages after their last game beat the teams that qualified early and had time to prepare. It’s definitely better to prepare but it’s not certain to win games.”
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