By Francisco Delgado
Liverpool left-back Jose Enrique has issued a rallying cry for his team-mates, emphasising the importance of their upcoming League Cup semi-final second leg against Manchester City.
The former Villarreal man arrived at Anfield in the summer following a £5 million move from Newcastle United and has been a mainstay in Kenny Dalglish’s first-team ever since, and he is determined to finish his first season at the Reds with something to show for his efforts.
The yet-to-be-capped Spaniard believes his side has to remain defensively disciplined when City come to Anfield on Wednesday night trailing 1-0 following a Steven Gerrard penalty in the first leg, saying the team cannot afford to waste such an opportunity for silverware.
Enrique told Goal.com: "The return match against City won't be easy, even though we have a one-goal advantage. We will have to prepare mentally as if we hadn't won the first leg and look for the victory.
"If we play in a conservative manner, City's attacking power could see us defeated. The match is very important for the club and for me.
"The club hasn't played in a final for some time and now we are 90 minutes away from a date at Wembley. We can't lose this opportunity we have been given.
"I left Newcastle in the summer in order to experience these sensations. To be in finals and fight for titles.
"That's why I am satisfied, up until now, with the step I took."
With Kenny Dalglish's side having home advantage, Enrique believes the onus is on them to take control of the match rather than be at the mercy of their talent-laden visitors, while he also acknowledges the defence must be at the top of their game
"The key to the match will be Liverpool," said the 26-year-old. "At home we have to go out there, be strong and dominate the ball so that our rival isn't comfortable on the pitch.
"And above all in defence we have to be very attentive with their strikers. I don't know who will play, but [Sergio] Aguero, [Mario] Balotelli and [Edin] Dzeko are tremendously dangerous."
Enrique, a graduate of Levante’s youth academy, went on to talk about one of City’s several danger men, singling out Sergio Aguero, and demanding his defensive colleagues ensure the Argentine doesn’t get the better of them.
He continued: "Kun Aguero's big strength is his explosive change of pace in one-on-one's and, even more so, in the opposition area.
"You have to be on top of him and our defence cannot allow him those 20 centimetres' advantage."
Liverpool’s last domestic trophies came in 2006, the year Rafa Benitez’s side won the FA Cup, followed by the Community Shield a few months later, but Enrique is determined to end that drought, adding that the atmosphere at Anfield will give the Reds a helping hand.
He went on: "The team are confident because the opportunity is unique, to give some joy back to the fans after a drought stretching back a few years, but we all know that this match at Anfield will be like a final and we have to play it intelligently, without thinking that our rival is the Premier League leader.
"The atmosphere at the ground will be one of those that makes the players' hair stand on end and that has a positive influence in all respects. City will notice it as soon as they go out on the pitch."
One player who will not be able to help Enrique and Co. on Saturday is Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez, as the Reds’ star man continues to serve his eight-match ban for allegedly racially abusing Manchester United’s France international Patrice Evra, but the Spaniard insists Liverpool still have enough quality to see off Roberto Mancini's side.
"Luis Suarez is a very important player for us with his goals," he said. “But he won't be there and we have to go out there with the same spirit we showed in the first match in Manchester."
Liverpool go into the City tie on the back of a 3-1 humbling to relegation fighters Bolton, but the left-back is keen to bounce back not only against the Blues, but also against the Red Devils in the FA Cup this weekend.
He concluded: "In the league we have to fight to finish as high as possible and we will do so right until the end.
"We are aware that we played a bad game in Bolton. We have talked about that with the manager, but it's forgotten now and the best solution is to beat the two Manchester teams in the cup games this week.
"That's our aim: to dedicate the success to our fans."