LIVERPOOL VS. CARDIFF CITY
| Sunday, February 6th |
FA Cup | Anfield
12PM GMT/7AM EST
Club football returns on Sunday when Liverpool welcome Cardiff City to Anfield for the fourth round of the FA Cup. Both Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah will be absent from this match, because they’re still in Cameroon preparing to battle it out in the African Cup of Nations final. Naby Keïta returned from service after Guinea was knocked out of the competition, so he’ll be available, though likely to be rested.
Liverpool haven’t had the best recent history in the FA Cup, but they have had a good recent history playing against Cardiff, along with a long unbeaten home streak to rely on. Some of the Academy and B team players will no doubt get their opportunities, just as they have been in the Carabao Cup.
The big story of this game is about the possible return to action of Harvey Elliott. The teenager suffered a heartbreaking setback in September, just as he was beginning to impress and earn some consistent playing time. But his ankle has recovered, and he could be in the match day squad for this one.
The Bluebirds sit in the slightly precarious 20th out of 24 teams in the Championship, so they’ll have an eye on their midweek league match against Peterborough. They’ll also have several ineligible cup-tied players to contend with.
Early domestic cup rounds are always a crapshoot for Liverpool. One scheduled for noon right after an international break, even more so. The Reds are the favorites and could easily knock in seven, but it wouldn’t be a huge shock for them to lose 2-0 either.
Predicted Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Kelleher; Bradley, Konaté, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Jones; Gordon, Firmino, Minamino
Kelleher is a safe bet, though the rest of the line-up in a bit of a mystery, like it always is in the early stages of the domestic cups. Klopp will likely field a younger side and rest his league starters for Thursday’s match against Leicester City.
Elliott should be returning to the team, though he’s unlikely to start so soon. If he does, expect him to be pulled after a pre-determined amount of time to maintain the fitness of his newly healed ankle.
Mané and Salah are both preparing to battle each other in the African Cup of Nations final, so they will be unavailable. Thiago has a chest infection, so he won’t be playing either.
For Cardiff City, the big problem they face is with players who are cup tied and unable to participate.
Max Watters, Cody Drameh, Alfie Doughty and Uche Ikpeazu will all be watching this match from the sidelines for Morison.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jürgen Klopp: “Massive. I cannot say more. We are not the most successful FA Cup team at least as long as I’m here. Yeah, we are quite ambitious.”
Steve Morison: “You need to enjoy it. You can’t leave with regrets. From my experience as a player, it was different because it was a league game and we needed to get a result. We’ll see what happens but we’ve got some really, really talented players.”
Referee: Andrew Madley Assistant Referees: Adrian Holmes & Edward Smart Fourth Official: Michael Dean VAR: Darren England Assistant VAR: Timothy Wood
Kickoff is set for 12PM GMT/7AM EST tomorrow. In the meantime, The Liverpool Offside team will keep you updated with all of the team news and match buildup as it becomes available, along with providing a matchday liveblog and post-match recaps and reaction. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account and have your say on the action as it happens.