Remember that time Liverpool stumbled out of the early stages of the FA Cup against League One's Oldham Athletic? Us neither, though the archives say that's exactly what happened less than a year ago. With Liverpool also having taken on Oldham in the FA Cup there year before—winning 5-1 that time out—we're left with something of a rarity on our hands as Liverpool are set to face the League One side for the third time in three years.
Oldham are, as was the case last season, struggling along in the bottom half of the third tier of English football, and their fans will once again be hoping to see their season given a boost by defeating Liverpool in the FA Cup. This time around, though, the job will be made more difficult for the minnows as Liverpool are drawn as the home side in the tie scheduled to take place on January 5th—a round earlier than last year but the same as in 2012.
The last time out, Liverpool fielded a weakened side with Brad Jones in goal, Sebastian Coates and Jack Robinson inserted in the defence, and Allen and Henderson given what last season was a rare start together in midfield with Lucas and Gerrard rested. Still, with both Suarez and Sturridge starting and some strong bench options, the 3-2 scoreline made for a shocking result.
Things have changed for Liverpool since last season, of course—and mostly for the better—with Allen and Henderson more likely to need a rest than to be the ones giving others a rare night off, and it will be interesting to see how seriously Brendan Rodgers treats the match given Liverpool's focus on league success this season. It's a situation that seems to set up as a no-win predicament for the manager.
For most, top four aspirations must come first and sending out a weakened side would be justified. On the other hand, the risk of losing for a second time in a row to the same lower league opponent might sway a few, though we'll be hoping Rodgers stays focused on Liverpool's league hopes—even if it means calling in a few of the guest stars from Steven Gerrard's testimonial to give regulars the night off.