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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 May 2006, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Molby expects Liverpool victory
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

I think Liverpool will do it, but anyone thinking it will be easy is in for a shock
Former Liverpool star Jan Molby expects them to round off a season of real progress with an FA Cup win - but warns West Ham must not be taken lightly.

Molby, a two-time FA Cup winner with Liverpool, told BBC Sport: "I think Liverpool's extra quality will he crucial, but it won't be easy.

"This will be a tight game because West Ham have been excellent this season, but Liverpool have really improved.

"Liverpool have finished the season fantastically well, and I go for them."

Molby paid tribute to Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez for closing the gap on title rivals Chelsea and Manchester United - and also masterminding FA Cup wins over the pair.

He said: "The only disappointment for Liverpool has been their defeat in the Champions League against Benfica.

"It came during a three-week spell when they were not firing on all cylinders. Any other time during 2006 and I think they would have won.

"The league is always regarded as the true guide to how good Liverpool's season has been, and they have moved closer to Chelsea and Manchester United.

"But they like trophies as well and I think they will round off the season by beating West Ham."

Molby added: "They have really come on this season. They are a physically very big and very strong, difficult to play against.

"They don't play too much of an open game away from home, but teams find it tough to break them down and they have quality to open teams up themselves.

"Momo Sissoko has come in to add strength to the midfield, and while Peter Crouch is not a prolific goalscorer, he has done a good job and got on the scoresheet as well.

"The established names like Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia have been fantastic as well, so that's helped maintain progress.

Liverpool will want Alonso fit because Cardiff will suit him, but they'll miss Garcia because big games mean goals for him

"You can only be impressed with what Benitez has done. Obviously they won the Champions League last season, but there was an element of luck about that.

"That's not a guide to progress. League placing and points are, and no-one can question that.

"You also don't get the feeling this will be a one-off. You feel they will make progress again next season.

"They will improve the squad again in the summer, maybe looking for a left-back, another centre-half and improvements in wide areas. They will also presumably look for a proven striker with pace as well.

"They could emerge as serious title contenders as well, but we said that this season and Chelsea raised the bar even further."

But Molby is convinced ample compensation will come in the shape of the FA Cup.

But he warned: "West Ham will not be straight-forward. I think everyone has been impressed with their approach and attitude this season.

"If Dean Ashton is missing that will be a blow, but I really like the look of Nigel Reo-Coker - I was surprised he didn't get the nod ahead of Owen Hargreaves in England's World Cup squad.

"Yossi Benayoun is quality as well. He can open up defences and is a real talent.

"I just think Liverpool's quality will see them through. They have got such strength in midfield, with Steven Gerrard a real leader.

"They will also hope Xabi Alonso will be fit, because he will love the wide open spaces of Cardiff with his range of passing.

"They'll miss Luis Garcia. It is sad he's suspended because big games mean goals for Garcia. He is like Freddie Ljungberg of a couple of seasons ago.

"I think Liverpool will do it, but anyone who thinks this is going to be easy is in for a shock. West Ham are a good side and it will be close."

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