Emile Heskey on the appeal of the FA Cup ahead of Liverpool’s clash with Aston Villa

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Exclusive – Emile Heskey has stated that while winning the FA Cup was the highlight of his career, the trophy has lost some of its appeal of late and understands why Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has not prioritized competition .

Two of Heskey’s former clubs, Aston Villa and Liverpool, meet in the FA Cup on Friday night, in one of the most eye-catching matches of the third round.

The last time the two teams met in October, the Premier League champions suffered a surprising 7-2 defeat, while also exiting the League Cup to Villa 5-1 last season, albeit with a very weakened equipment.

Aston Villa v Liverpool - Premier League
Aston Villa surprised Liverpool earlier this season | Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

Talking to 90min Before Liverpool’s return to Villa Park, Heskey admitted that many will have Villa as a favorite, considering his recent form.

“We’re talking about Liverpool having a routine. It’s three games, but if you go to the game before they score seven goals.”

– Heskey, in the form of Liverpool

“I think people will call them [Villa] the favorites, but can you go against what you know Liverpool can do? “Heskey said.

“We are talking about having a bit of a routine. There are three games [without a win]but if you go to the match earlier, they scored seven goals!

“With Liverpool, when one [of the front three] is having a day off, others are usually on his game, while now more have their days off at the same time. “

Sadio Mane, Jurgen Klopp
Sadio Mane has only scored two in his last 12 Premier League appearances | Pool / Getty Images

On whether Klopp, who has never led Liverpool beyond the FA Cup fifth round, should place more importance on national cups, Heskey admitted that he can see both sides of the argument from a coach’s perspective.

“I would like that [do well in the FA Cup]Because I’m from England and I know what it means to grow up watching the final, but when you’re a coach you think about priorities, “he said.

“The priority of many people is, when you are in the middle [the table], stay in the Premier League and the other half are thinking of winning it.

“You’re only ten games away, probably less now, from being sacked, so you’re focusing more on the games you think you can win and influence the league.

“There are a lot of games, especially this season. It’s very condensed. Games will be suspended and kicked down the road, where you’ll have short periods of time between games. And you’re going to get injuries. It’s tough. It’s very, very tough.

“It would be good for them to play for stronger teams in the FA Cup, but I understand why they don’t.”

The 42-year-old Heskey was, of course, part of Liverpool that won the treble in 2001 and lifted both the national cups and the UEFA Cup with the late Gerard Houllier.

“I would ask foreigners which one is better for them, the FA Cup or the UEFA Cup. They would say UEFA. I would say FA” “

– Heskey on the importance of the FA Cup

When asked if the FA Cup victory, in which the Reds came back to defeat Arsenal at the last minute, was the pinnacle of his own career, the former striker was unequivocal. However, he admitted that it was not the same for everyone, even at the turn of the century.

“100% [the FA Cup win was the pinnacle for me], “he said.

Liverpool celebrate winning the FA Cup, the League Cup and the UEFA Cup in 2001
Liverpool celebrate winning the FA Cup, the League Cup and the UEFA Cup in 2001 | Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

“I asked foreigners which was better for them, the FA Cup or the UEFA Cup. They would say UEFA. I would say FA and the other Englishmen too.

“I don’t know if it still has the same appeal today. It’s losing a bit. We can blame it on all sorts of factors. Managers don’t play with their strongest teams, games aren’t broadcast enough or whatever, yo I do not know. “

Following the trip to Villa Park on Friday, Liverpool return to the Premier League to face Manchester United at Anfield on 17 January.

With United playing their game before the derby, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team could be at the top of the table when they visit Anfield, making it a game that suddenly seems to have significance for the rest of next season.

Jurgen Klopp
Klopp faces a difficult couple of weeks with clashes against Villa and Man Utd | Robin Jones / Getty Images

“I think it’s a decisive game,” Heskey said. “Set a score. No one foresaw, when United fell to 10th, that they would come back to the top with the potential to overtake Liverpool.

“So it establishes a scoreboard on which any team can mark its authority.”

BT Sport will broadcast several Emirates FA Cup third round matches live, including Aston Villa v Liverpool live on BT Sport 1 starting at 7pm on Friday, January 8. For more information visit bt.com/sport



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