Ideal time to improve dismal Anfield record
THE last time Swansea City played a cup tie at Anfield, they suffered the heaviest defeat in the club's history.
Happily for Michael Laudrup, the chasm that separated Liverpool and Swansea in 1990 is now merely a gap.
Yes, the Reds have the sparkling history, the packed trophy cabinet and the fan base which stretches around the globe.
They also have the squad which features Premier League heavyweights like Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Pepe Reina.
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But for all their individual quality, Liverpool failed to score against Swansea last season, Brendan Rodgers's class of 2011-12 earning a laudable goalless draw on Merseyside before beating the five-time European Cup winners at the Liberty in May.
Times have since changed. Rodgers will be in the red corner this time around, attempting to mastermind the downfall of a team he knows very well.
But given that the Northern Irishman is poised to rest a host of senior figures, Swansea will walk out tonight believing they are capable of pulling off a head-turning victory.
Swansea's joy at Anfield down the decades has been seriously limited.
In 16 visits, they have won only once, in the 1964 FA Cup quarter-final. Even then the goalkeeper, Noel Dwyer, was the visitors' hero.
Their last knockout game at Liverpool was 22 years ago, when Ian Evans's Third Division Swansea side took on a Liverpool outfit who would win the league title in that campaign.
Ian Rush scored a hat-trick, while the likes of John Barnes and Peter Beardsley were also on the scoresheet in an 8-0 demolition.
Those were the days when first-choice sides played in every competition.
Tonight will be a different story. Rodgers made 11 changes in the last round of the Capital One Cup, and has indicated that the youngsters will get a chance once more even with a place in the last eight up for grabs.
Laudrup has also shuffled his pack in this competition up until now, but there are suggestions that he will pick something closer to his first-choice side as Swansea attempt to make history by progressing to the quarter-final stage for the first time.
"It's a great opportunity for us," says Swansea skipper Garry Monk, one of those who could be given a cup chance by Laudrup.
"The incentive is there for us to go there and do well. We will be full of confidence and we'll try to put on a good display.
"It's a chance for us to progress in this cup and we can't take it lightly."
The eye will inevitably be drawn towards Rodgers, former darling of the Liberty who is now battling to establish himself at one of the grandest clubs of all.
If his stint in these parts is anything to go by, the impressive Rodgers will eventually deliver success at Liverpool as long as he is given time to shape the squad.
Those who worked with him at Swansea will want to see him do well at his new club — but not before they have thrown a spanner into the works this evening.
"When you look at the whole picture, the hardest hurdle to clear is going from the Championship to the Premier League," Monk adds.
"Brendan got us over that. Not only that, but we managed to sustain it as well in the first season and that's given us the platform to push on this season.
"But we've moved on now and we will be trying to lower his colours tonight because he is in the opposition dugout now.
"It will be great to see him and Colin Pascoe and everyone else who did so much for this club, but our job now is to make sure we beat them."
Swansea's challenge is to maintain the standards set at Manchester City last weekend.
Manage that, after all, and they will have a chance of triumphing whether Rodgers summons his star names or not.
Even though they were beaten, Swansea's performance at the Etihad Stadium was as encouraging as anything they have produced under Laudrup given the calibre of the opposition.
Now comes an opportunity to prove the display was no fluke as they travel to another of English football's strongholds.
"We did tremendously well at City and deserved to get something," Monk says.
"And now we want to make sure we finish the week with two results, starting against Liverpool."
Chelsea come next in this most demanding of sequences, but Swansea must focus first on silencing the Kop.
"We know it will be two teams who want possession," says Laudrup.
"Liverpool have been playing that way since the 1970s, so that is nothing new.
"Both teams like to have the ball, just like when we played Wigan, and that should make it an interesting game."
Swansea need a solid performance from Gerhard Tremmel, whose big chance has arrived thanks to Michel Vorm's injury.
A rearguard which will feature at least one new face — Angel Rangel is suspended — will also have to deliver.
If Swansea can keep Liverpool's forwards quiet, Laudrup will be quietly confident that his frontmen can do some damage.
"The gaffer will have his ideas of what he thinks will benefit us and I'm sure Brendan will have his way of trying to counter us," Monk adds.
"It will be a special feeling for Brendan because of his links with the club — he will want to do well.
"He will be right up for it, just like we will."
But who will be smiling at the end?
Will it be Rodgers, the man who did so much for Swansea, or Laudrup, who would not have come to Wales had it not been for the progress overseen by his predecessor?
A closer call than 1990 is guaranteed.