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  1. And so onto the next meeting with the Emirati sportwashing empire. There’s no doubt that ourselves and City have looked like the strongest sides in the country this season. It’s also a valid call when talking about the European and indeed global game. Both sides play football on the front foot, but both go about it in different ways. City are all about dominating possession and strangling the game before creating overloads out wide, whereas we can switch from measured possession to insane pressing to physical dominance at set pieces within the same game. We can do what they do to a degree, but mix it up much more with a bit of ‘ugly’ stuff to get our rewards. What do we need to get our rewards here? Drive. Energy. Resolve. Skill. Panache. Intelligence. Electricity. Gumption. Edge. Luck. I don’t ask for much. The two sides met in the 3rd round at Maine Road in January 2003, with a solitary Spud goal enough to progress through to the next round. That 2002/03 team was going through a dreadful spell at the time and the cup ‘run’ would soon come to an end on a dismal night against second tier Crystal Palace at Anfield. Better was the 5th round game at Anfield in mid-February 2001. The manager rested the likes of Owen and Robbie and gave starts to Jari and Vladi, alongside Big Emile. Those three practically ran amok against a City side, managed by Joe Royle, that were struggling on their top flight return and would be relegated again at the end of the season. Vladi was clipped by City keeper Nicky Weaver in the box, and Jari calmly (did he ever not do anything calmly?) dispatched the spot kick into the bottom corner, sending Weaver the wrong way. The stylish Finn then sent Big Emile through with a first-time ball over the top and the former Leicester man fired the ball into the far corner to put the Reds 2 to the good. Andrei Kanchelskis (I had no idea he played for City!) got one back, firing a loose ball through a crowd and into the corner beyond Sander in goal. It’s a similar goal to Vladi’s effort in Istanbul. The scoreline did not reflect the disparity between the two teams (as mentioned before, City were near the foot of the table, while Liverpool had recently beaten Serie A champions elect Roma in their own back yard). Weaver brought Vladi down again inside the area in the second half (a more clear-cut call than the first one), and the Czech got up to score the penalty himself. We made absolutely sure of the win shortly before the end when Ziege’s free kick from the right was headed into the far corner by his countryman Babbel. City had time to grab a consolation via Shaun Goater in stoppage time. We would travel across the Mersey to the Wirral to take on Aldo’s Tranmere in the quarter finals. Here's the whole City game. April 2001 saw Anthony Hopkins return to the top of the box office in his most famous role - Dr Hannibal Lecter. Hannibal was Ridley Scott’s adaptation of the Thomas Harris novel, with Julianne Moore in the role of FBI agent Clarice Starling. Like the book, it’s a bit of a mess, and like the book, there are two big issues. The first is that Lecter features way too prominently, and the second is the sexual tension between him and Starling. The best thing about firstly Michael Mann’s 1980s film Manhunter (based on Harris’ ‘Red Dragon’) and Jonathan Demme’s Oscar hooverer The Silence of the Lambs was that Lecter was a conduit between an FBI agent and a lunatic serial killer (Francis Dollarhyde and Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb respectively). He was there to help the FBI agent unravel the psyche and track down the wanted man. In both the film and book of the latest instalment, Lecter veers dangerously towards a parody of himself. Gary Oldman and Ray Liotta aren’t helped either by a clunky script. Every single one of the people involved in this have done much much better elsewhere. Definitely a sequel that wasn’t needed. Brett Ratner’s take on Red Dragon the following year is a much better film, but still not a patch on what Mann and Demme delivered. Of course we need to be ready for everything City have got to offer, and we need a couple of our lot to step up a gear or two. Not easy with the busy fixture list, but this is an opportunity to make our first FA Cup final in a decade, which would lead to our first opportunity to win the thing for the first time in SIXTEEN years! The attitude and application need to be spot on, and hopefully we get the rub of the green too. Hopefully our high defensive line is tighter than in the last couple of games, and opefully our shooting boots are on. Let’s make it count. Pressure, what pressure?
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