West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic is braced for the unexpected when Liverpool take to the field at the Boleyn Ground on Tuesday (January 9).
He says that previous victories over the Reds will be in their minds as they meet to settle the FA Cup fourth round with a tie against Blackburn Rovers awaiting the winner.
The Hammers produced stellar performances in the Premier against Liverpool – first a 3-0 away win at Anfield on August 29 – before a comfortable 2-0 home win at Upton Park on January 2.
However in the recent FA Cup fixture on Merseyside the east Londoners struggled in the goalless draw where Liverpool fielded a youthful team. Hammers boss Bilic reckons it is not a reason to be worried – even if the likes of Daniel Sturridge return.
Bilic said: “This will be the third time but we’ve already played them with different line-ups. We’re well prepared for whatever team Liverpool field and we’ll know that one hour before the game so I don’t see any problem in this.
“If Sturridge plays then it’s better for them but if it’s not Sturridge it will be Benteke and if it’s not Benteke it will be Ibe. Up front they have many good strikers – the difference is the midfield.”
With the earlier victories in the Premier League – accompanied by clean sheets – Bilic knows what it takes to beat them in order to advance to the fifth round with a tie at Ewood Park on February 21.
Bilic said: “They are a big club who have their ups and downs like any other club.
“When you face them you have to have a complete football game. In defence you have to be resilient and close them down quickly. You cannot give them time and space because they will harm you because they have quality.
“When you have the ball you have to be brave, direct and be very skilful which we showed in the two league games we have played against them.”
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