Chris Hughton takes his regular look at our forthcoming opponents - next up, Liverpool in the Carling Cup quarter final at the Lane tonight...
IT IS A very exciting game for us against Liverpool in the Carling Cup and it is always a nicer feeling going into a game like this on the back of a good result.
The cup games have always been very special, particularly the evening games, and the opposition doesn't come any better than Liverpool. I think we're all trying to guess what sort of side they'll put out and, looking at the fine win over Arsenal, it shows what good players they do have.
We go into the game in a confident frame of mind but, even before the Middlesbrough game, we had the benefit of a good mood in the camp. Even without the sending off on Sunday we were optimistic we would put on a good performance in the second half and score. It is certainly better, however, to enter a tie of this magnitude having won the previous game.
From a tactical point of view, Liverpool's system is one we've certainly seen more abroad over the last few years, but a little bit more over here in the last couple of seasons.
It is a 4-5-1 or a 4-4-1-1 where you've got very much a withdrawn striker or an advanced midfield player. We have seen it a few times over here, Everton are playing a 4-5-1, but their system includes three predominently central midfield players.
There are more teams varying their systems, but this one was an interesting one with Steven Gerrard playing in advance of midfield and behind the frontman. He showed great energy and when you've got someone as dynamic as he is it is a wonderful position for him to play. He is also a player, for me, that could play in any position other than in goal. Thankfully, it doesn't seem likely he will play against us.
Liverpool have options in midfield, looking at the game against Arsenal, when the ball went into central areas they had a lot of bodies around the ball. Hamman and Alonso were attacking from one side and Gerrard was closing down from the other.
As far as the options they have in the middle, it is probably the strongest part of the squad if you look at players like Salif Diao and Igor Biscan that haven't been playing as much. I saw Biscan play in early round at Millwall and he was their best player.
Neil Mellor played very well as a lone striker against Arsenal and worked very hard. To score a goal of that quality in the last minute was fantastic for him.