Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
's live text coverage of this afternoon's FA Cup
quarter-final between Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers
at Anfield. It's Premier League vs. Championship with a place in the semi-finals at Wembley Stadium awaiting the winner. Team news should be through shortly.
LIVERPOOL: Mignolet; Can, Skrtel, Lovren, Johnson; Markovic, Henderson, Lallana, Coutinho, Sterling; Sturridge
LIVERPOOL SUBS: Ward, Toure, Lambert, Moreno, Sakho, Balotelli, Williams
Following on from their 2-0 win over Burnley in the Premier League in midweek, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has made two changes for today's game as Glen Johnson and Lazar Markovic replace Alberto Moreno and Joe Allen. Meanwhile, Mamadou Sakho returns to the bench for the hosts and sits alongside the likes of Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli.
BLACKBURN: Eastwood; Henley, Baptiste, Kilgallon, Olsson; Marshall, Evans, Williamson, Conway, Cairney; Gestede
BLACKBURN SUBS: Steele, Spurr, Brown, Rhodes, Taylor, Henry, Lenihan
Blackburn boss Gary Bowyer has made a total of seven changes after seeing his side earn a 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship four days ago. Simon Eastwood is given the nod in goal, while Marcus Olsson, Alex Baptiste, Corry Evans, Craig Conway, Tom Cairney and Rudy Gestede are all recalled.
Liverpool have not had the most routine of passages through to the quarter-finals, it must be said. They edged past AFC Wimbledon 2-1 in the third round before needing a replay to see off Bolton Wanderers 2-1 in the fourth. They then booked their place in the last eight by beating Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park.
Despite edging through to the quarter-finals of this competition, the stats tell you that Brendan Rodgers's side are in sensational form in the Premier League. The Reds are currently on a 12-game unbeaten run, with nine of those results being wins. The Merseysiders certainly have the wind in their sails at the moment and will need some stopping if they are to be denied a place in the FA Cup semi-finals.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: "It is a big game. We made it clear our intent in this competition was to get to the final and win it and to do that you have to beat different types of teams and Blackburn will come and look to make it difficult for us.
"I think Gary Bowyer has done an outstanding job since he has gone in there. He's had a similar pathway to myself in terms of working in youth development so he understands football clubs from the top to the bottom. He has gone in there in very difficult circumstances and stabilised the club and got everyone on the same path and has done an outstanding job."
© Getty Images
In contrast to Liverpool's impressive form in the league, Blackburn have seen themselves slip out of playoff contention in recent weeks. Their victory over Sheffield Wednesday in midweek ended a four-game winless run. They currently sit in 11th place in the Championship table, 14 points adrift of the top six.
That's not to say that they haven't worked hard to get this far in the FA Cup. Quite the contrary. Rovers saw off Charlton Athletic in the third round before stunning Swansea City with a 3-1 triumph at Ewood Park. Their giant-killing antics continued in the last round as they hammered Stoke City 4-1. They may be the underdogs today, but knocking out two Premier League side will have given Gary Bowyer's men a huge lift ahead of this game.
Blackburn boss Gary Bowyer: "Obviously Brendan has got a wonderful squad and he can rest a few with the games he's had lately, and it wouldn't weaken the team, but our players are going to go into the game fully confident.
"It's David versus Goliath, and we've been very organised in our games against Premier League teams, and we'll need that bit of luck but we had a plan for those games and the players followed that plan out."
HEAD TO HEAD: Liverpool have the superior record when it comes to past meetings between these teams, winning 58 games compared to Blackburn's 36. There have also been 41 draws since they first faced each other.
It's safe to say that Blackburn haven't had too much luck at Anfield in recent years. The last time that they won here was in the FA Cup fourth round back in 2000, with Nathan Blake scoring the winner for Rovers that day. They been to Anfield 11 times since then and have failed to replicate that feat.
Many people think that this year's FA Cup is tailor-made for Steven Gerrard to win it in his final season with Liverpool. However, the midfielder doesn't make the squad today because he's still nursing a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, it's understood that Joe Allen misses out this afternoon due to a knock that he picked up in training yesterday.
For those of you who may not have been able to keep up with the FA Cup action so far this weekend, we've already got one team through to the semi-finals following yesterday's games. Aston Villa defeated local rivals West Bromwich Albion 2-1 in a colourful match at Villa Park. Meanwhile, Saturday's early kickoff saw giant-killers Bradford City draw 0-0 with Reading at Valley Parade.
Blackburn would probably be happy to settle for a draw this afternoon. The Championship side would certainly fancy their chances of winning a replay at Ewood Park, though they will be well aware that a big effort over the course of the next 90 minutes will be needed to make that possible. Liverpool will be keen to wrap this match up this afternoon due to what is likely to be a frantic finish in the race for fourth place in the Premier League.
PREDICTION TIME: How do you see this one going today? This season's FA Cup has already thrown up plenty of surprises, but it may be a step too far for Blackburn to shock Liverpool at Anfield today. Brendan Rodgers's men are in such dazzling form at the moment it's hard to see anything other than a home win.
Just five minutes to go until kickoff and the players are starting to emerge in the tunnel at Anfield. There are lots of focused faces in there.
Here come the teams!
KICKOFF! The players are out, the pre-match handshakes have been done, and it will be hosts Liverpool to get this FA Cup quarter-final underway. Here we go!
It's been a confident start from Liverpool, but that's been marred by a nasty fall for Skrtel. The defender landed awkwardly after an aerial challenge with Gestede. He's on the deck receiving treatment, though it's unsure whether he can continue. Not ideal for the home side.
It's unclear what injury Skrtel has suffered but he's still being seen to by medical staff. Let's hope that he's okay. As mentioned, it was a pretty bad fall following a battle for an aerial ball with Gestede. It seems as if Toure will be replacing the centre-back.
Will this lengthy stoppage affect the Liverpool players? They'll need to forget about this when play continues, even if it is a teammate that is badly injured.
LIVERPOOL SUB: Skrtel, who is wearing a neck brace, goes off on a stretcher to a rousing reception and puts his thumb up as he leaves the field of play. Kolo Toure is on in his place.
CHANCE! An early opening for Blackburn as Gestede heads towards goal with Mignolet in no man's land. The forward's effort goes just wide. That big delay because of the Skrtel injury has cooled the atmosphere inside Anfield, that's for sure.
Following that opportunity for Gestede, Liverpool have started to come to life a bit. Sturridge attempts to go through on goal, but Eastwood is quick off his line and thwarts the danger. Blackburn will not want to give the England striker too much space like that this afternoon.
The hosts continue to put pressure on Blackburn as Markovic's cross falls to Coutinho, but the Brazilian's shot from the edge of the box is blocked by the visiting defence. Liverpool are spending more and more time in the Blackburn half at the moment.
PENALTY SHOUT! Liverpool want a spot kick as Lallana goes to ground under a challenge from Kilgallon. Replays show that the defender got the ball with a firm but fair tackle. Good defending there.
CHANCE! The opportunities continue to come as a cross from the right is almost converted into his own net by Johnson. The full-back didn't look completely comfortable there, but he did enough to see out the danger. The resulting corner is cleared.
Blackburn are enjoying a really good spell of pressure right now. A long throw from the left is met by the head of Gestede, whose effort is collected by Mignolet. The Benin international looks like he's going to give the Liverpool defence plenty to think about today.
Gary Bowyer will be pleased by how organised his side is looking. Rovers are attacking in numbers but also defending very well as a unit. They certainly don't look like a team languishing around mid-table in the Championship.
After some good pressure from Blackburn it's Liverpool who are starting to take a bit more control. Coutinho does well on the edge of the penalty area to create himself some space, though he can only curl high over the crossbar having done most of the hard work already. The Kop stood in anticipation when Coutinho got on the ball there because he's scored a couple of screamers in recent weeks.
CHANCE! The visitors threaten again as a lovely passing move ends with Conway smashing the ball narrowly over. The movement there was wonderful from the likes of Gestede, Cairney and Conway.
DISALLOWED GOAL! Toure has the ball in the net, but it won't count. A cross into the box finds it's way to the defender, who fires past Eastwood from close range, though he is stood in an offside position.
Coutinho tries his luck from distance again as Liverpool push forward, only to shoot high and wide for the second time. The ball looked like it bobbled up in front of the Brazilian there. Brendan Rodgers has been critical of the Anfield pitch recently and it seemed to have a detrimental effect on his side there.
Five minutes left of normal time in this half, though we're sure to have lots of stoppage time to make up for the Skrtel injury. Meanwhile, Liverpool are continuing to do most of the attacking, while Blackburn are being limited to counter-attacking football. That said, the visitors are still posing a threat on the break.
While Liverpool are dominating the possession, they're lacking that bit of invention in the final third. The passing and movement is good, and they're always looking to surge forward, but they're finding it tough to get Sturridge involved. Sterling has also been fairly quiet so far.
There will be at least EIGHT MINUTES of added time at the end of the first half.
YELLOW CARD! The first booking of the afternoon goes the way of Emre Can, who is cautioned for pulling back Cairney just as Blackburn were looking to break.
There's a bit of restlessness in the stands at Anfield because Liverpool are struggling to break Blackburn down. Markovic makes a run down the right before getting a shot away, but it's a tame one that is straight at Eastwood. That was the home side's first effort on target of the day.
Liverpool win themselves a corner following good work from Markovic, only for the visitors to see out the danger at the second attempt.
SAVE! Great stop from Eastwood, who pushes the ball away after Sturridge powers a shot towards goal from a tricky angle. The Liverpool striker did very well to get his attempt on target because it looked difficult from there.
HALF TIME: LIVERPOOL 0-0 BLACKBURN
The half-time whistle goes, bringing the end to an intriguing opening 45 minutes at Anfield. Liverpool have found it tough to break Blackburn down so far, while the visitors have impressed with their organisation and counter-attacking play.
Of course, the match got off to an unpleasant start when Martin Skrtel was stretchered off after landing awkwardly following an aerial challenge. The Liverpool defender was treated for a long time before being stretchered off. However, the Slovakian put his thumbs up when he was leaving the pitch, and news is that he's okay.
What Liverpool have been lacking so far is a bit of invention in the final third. They've seen plenty of the ball, but they haven't been able to thread that telling pass through the Blackburn defence. The visitors have defended magnificently so far.
As mentioned in a previous post, Liverpool will be keen to get this quarter-final finished today. The Reds are going to be busy during the final stages of the season as the race for fourth in the Premier League hots up. If you were to offer Blackburn a replay now Gary Bowyer's side would probably take it.
SECOND HALF UNDERWAY! The teams are back out for the second half and it will be Blackburn to get us back underway. No changes from either manager during the interval.
Blackburn have started this second half positively. They're already looking to push forward and get at Liverpool, winning a corner in the process. The set piece is delivered from the right and Baptiste forces the save from Mignolet with a good header.
CHANCE! Liverpool come close to breaking the deadlock as Sturridge takes the ball down inside the box before seeing his powerful shot blocked by the Blackburn defence. The striker did brilliantly in terms of control there.
There's been very little to separate these teams since the restart. Liverpool are experiencing the same problems that they did in the first half in that they're struggling to provide the necessary quality to get behind this Blackburn defence. Meanwhile, the visitors are as committed as ever.
PENALTY SHOUT! The hosts want a penalty again as Sturridge goes down under a challenge from Kilgallon. The Blackburn defender had his arm across the striker, but referee Andre Marriner waves away the appeals. It looks the be the right decision from the official.
CHANCE! A big opening for Liverpool sees a free kick from Coutinho met at the back post by Toure, who somehow heads wide from close range. The look on the defender's face tells you that he knows he should have buried it. What a let off for Blackburn, who were vulnerable at the back there.
That opportunity for Toure has certainly woken Liverpool up a bit. The home side win themselves two corners in quick succession, though they fail to do anything with either.
A technical fault earlier prevented us from telling you that Liverpool have made their first change of the day, with Mario Balotelli replacing Markovic.
Liverpool are really cranking up the pressure now. The home fans are getting right behind their team as well, which hasn't always been the case this afternoon. The Reds win a free kick that Sturridge hits into the wall before Coutinho's follow-up effort is heroically blocked by the visitors. You get the feeling that Rovers will be doing a lot of that sort of thing as this game goes on.
BLACKBURN SUB: The visitors make a change now as Chris Taylor takes the place of Ben Marshall. Just over 20 minutes to play at Anfield.
Classic Balotelli. The striker tries his luck from about 35 yards, but he can only smash the ball high and wide of the goal. It was a waste really because he had a few men in front of him that were looking to make a run in behind the Blackburn defence.
It's all Liverpool at the moment in terms of possession. Blackburn are struggling to get in the opposition half. Balotelli and Sturridge link up, with the former dinking a ball over the top for his strike partner, but Sturridge scoops his effort off target.
A bit of confusion in the Blackburn box as Lallana's cross from the right causes Eastwood a problem, though the goalkeeper is able to recover and smother the ball at the feet of Sturridge. Eastwood looked far from convincing there.
Time is running out for Liverpool. They've got just over 12 minutes to find a winner here, but they're still struggling to find a way past Blackburn. Balotelli has added something to their attack, though Brendan Rodgers may look to his bench again shortly in order to shake things up. Could Rickie Lambert be the man to turn things around?
Balotelli is in the thick of the action again as he links with Henderson before curling a modest effort straight at Eastwood. The Italian thought about putting his laces through the ball there, but he instead went for placement rather than power.
CHANCE! Liverpool almost make their dominance count as Henderson tries his luck from a difficult angle inside a crowded box, but Eastwood does well to get down and divert the ball away.
CHANCE! Another good cross from the right sees Balotelli and Sterling both go for the ball, but it's the former who gets his head to it and nods wide. The hosts are throwing everything at Rovers now. Gary Bowyer's side are going to have to be full focused during these final five minutes.
YELLOW CARD! Andre Marriner goes straight to his pocket to book Cairney after the Blackburn midfielder catches Balotelli with a high boot.
There will be just ONE MINUTE of added time at the end of this game...
FULL TIME: LIVERPOOL 0-0 BLACKBURN
Blackburn hold on to earn a replay following lots of Liverpool pressure in the second half. The Championship side were disciplined throughout and fully deserve another crack at the Merseysiders at Ewood Park. Meanwhile, Liverpool will be disappointed not to have put the tie to bed this afternoon. The last thing that they need is another fixture as they bid to finish in the top four in the Premier League.
That's all from our live text coverage of today's game, but don't forget that you can keep up to date with all of the reaction from both teams here on Sports Mole. Thanks for your company, we hope to see you again soon. Goodbye!