Liverpool are back in action with an FA Cup fourth round clash as they host Championship strugglers Cardiff City at Anfield.
The winter break has provided Liverpool with some much-needed respite from injuries and Covid-19 problems that somewhat hampered them in January. Jurgen Klopp will be hoping his squad is stable, and the arrival of Luis Diaz ought to add a new dimension to their attack. That aside, the German manager will be keen to get his hands on the FA Cup among other honours when the season ends.
Liverpool have not won the competition since the 2005/06 season, and their performances in recent seasons have been nothing short of disappointing. Liverpool have made it to the fifth round just once in the last six years – a record Klopp will be keen to improve this term. They have a chance to progress when they meet Championship strugglers Cardiff on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Cardiff City have recently seen an upturn in fortunes with some good results in recent games. After a disappointing January, the Welsh side ended the month with consecutive victories over Nottingham Forest and Barnsley. Those wins will have given the Championship side some much-needed confidence to face the Premier League giants.
Cardiff, like Liverpool, have not made it to the fifth round in years. The last time they progressed to that stage of the competition was in the 2013/14 season, when they advanced past the fifth round. The Bluebirds also have a dismal record against the Reds, having lost their last six games versus the Merseysiders.
They are in the fourth round courtesy of Mark Harris’ 116th-minute winner against Preston North End in the previous round. Cardiff will be hoping to make their mark at Anfield and play to the best of their ability, although the venue has been a fortress for Liverpool in recent seasons.
Team News & Tactics
Jurgen Klopp could field a second-string team against their Championship opponents. There are potential absentees apart from those who remain at the AFCON. Divock Origi and Thiago Alcantara are doubts, while Harvey Elliott might not be risked from the start after his return from a long layoff. Klopp also suggested that new signing Luis Diaz could have to wait to make his debut.
Stepping up preparations for #LIVCAR ⏫
Inside Training is now available on @LFCTV GO ?
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 5, 2022
Meanwhile, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah remain at the AFCON, which could force Klopp to field some of his young, inexperienced options in the front positions. Kaide Gordon could be drafted into the lineup in attack alongside the experienced Roberto Firmino and Curtis Jones.
Veteran star James Milner could take his position on the left side of midfield, while youngster Tyler Morton could sit at the base where Fabinho plays. Meanwhile, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could finish the midfield lineup for the Reds.
Klopp could shake up his backline for the Cardiff clash. The Liverpool manager could hand Conor Bradley a start at right-back, while Kostas Tsimikas should get the nod on the left. Ibrahima Konate and Joe Gomez may feature in central defence, with Caoimhin Kelleher in goal in place of Alisson.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kelleher; Bradley, Gomez, Konate, Tsimikas; Chamberlain, Morton, Milner; Gordon, Firmino, Jones
There are a few issues that manager Steve Morison has to deal with as he aims to pick his strongest lineup possible. Cardiff could be without Sean Morrison for this game after the player was forced off eleven minutes into their win over Barnsley. While he is not completely ruled out yet, doubts remain over his involvement.
He is joined on the list by Max Waters and Rubin Colwill, with the former set to be a certain absentee. Meanwhile, Cardiff will not have Leeds United loanee Cody Drameh as he remains cup-tied for this clash. However, Manchester City loanee Tommy Doyle should get a starting berth at Anfield.
Cardiff will miss the services of top scorer Kieffer Moore after his transfer to Bournemouth on deadline day. The club brought in Uche Ikpeazu and Jordan Hugill as late replacements on loan to fill the void left by the Welshman. There are doubts over midfielder Joe Ralls and defender Curtis Nelson, who suffered knocks during the midweek game against Barnsley, but they are expected to feature.
Mark Harris could take one of the places in the front two alongside Hugill. Morisson could go with a 3-5-2 formation to contain the Liverpool pressure, as the strategy seems to have worked in their last two league games.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Phillips; Nelson, Flint, McGuinness; Perry Ng, Doyle, Pack, Ralls, Doughty; Harris, Hugill
- Liverpool are unbeaten at Anfield for 22 games, a run that goes back to March 2021.
- Liverpool are on a six-game winning streak against Cardiff City in all competitions.
- Liverpool have reached the fifth round of the FA Cup just once in the last six seasons.
- Liverpool have scored at least two goals in each of their last three matches in the FA Cup.
- Cardiff’s victory over Barnsley ensured they kept a clean sheet for the first time on the road since August 2021.
Player To Watch
Persistent injury troubles and indifferent form have forced Jurgen Klopp to select the former Arsenal midfielder sporadically. However, this season, Oxlade-Chamberlain has tried to prove a point whenever he has taken the field.
With the midfielder likely to start against Cardiff, it is a brilliant chance for him to showcase his talent. The return of Harvey Elliott from injury could threaten his position in the team, as Klopp could select the youngster in a midfield three at times. So Oxlade-Chamberlain needs to prove himself to be worthy of an extended run in the lineup.
Liverpool 2-0 Cardiff City
Cardiff may have been gaining momentum in the Championship with their recent consecutive wins, but Liverpool are on a different level. Barring a surprise from the Welsh side, the Reds are unlikely to surrender their unbeaten home run to a Championship side.
The Reds might be without some of their formidable first-team players for this clash, but their second-string side should have enough quality to see off Cardiff. Expect Liverpool to find safe passage through to the fifth round of the FA Cup.