Liverpool welcome Everton to Anfield as they kick off their FA cup campaign by hosting the Toffees in round three. This competition is not a priority for the Reds while they have a sizeable lead in the Premier League to defend.
The opportunity to win a consecutive Champions League is far more valuable than England’s biggest FA Cup.
Everton had a change of management in December — Carlo Ancelotti was appointed to try and improve the mood inside Goodison Park. Recent results have improved though they still sit only five points above the relegation zone.
Due to the fact that Jürgen Klopp will likely rotate heavily, it would be more accurate to focus on Liverpool’s League Cup campaign rather than their league form.
Liverpool’s Club World Cup commitments meant that the club had to field an under-strength side. Of the 11 players who played, it is likely only two or three players will be involved against Everton — Harvey Elliott, Ki-Jana Hoever and Sepp van den Berg were involved in an undeserved 5-0 loss.
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A young Liverpool side were more than a match for Villa in the first half but the home side’s finishing was vastly superior, which proved to be the difference as numerous young Reds fluffed their lines in front of goal.
The Liverpool team which defeated Arsenal on penalties in the previous round will be quite similar to the one which will play against Everton. Liverpool drew that game 5-5, as they had to come back from two goals down after taking the lead.
A brace from Gabriel Martinelli in the first half saw Arsenal lead 3-2 at half-time as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi levelled the game at 4-4. Joe Willock looked to have scored a winner for Arsenal with a strike from 30 yards before Origi levelled again deep into stoppage time.
Everton will probably field a near-full strength team. If Carlo Ancelotti becomes their first manager to win at Anfield since Walter Smith just over 20 years ago, it would make him popular among the supporters so early into his job.
They have won two of his first three games, against Burnley and Newcastle United. Their match against the Clarets saw them dominate, they had 68% of the ball which saw them have 21 efforts on goal but only five of those were on target. Two saw goalkeeper Nick Pope produce fine saves before Dominic Calvert-Lewin broker the deadlock in the 80th minute.
Again they dominated the ball against Newcastle, registering 58% possession. Everton did allow 20 shots on their goal, but won the game 2-1. The game should have ended level, but Newcastle wasted numerous opportunities in front of goal.
Jürgen Klopp will make wholesale changes to his squad, though he will still have strong options off the bench.
Adrián will probably start in goal ahead of a much-changed back four. The likes of Neco Williams, Nat Phillips and Ki-Jana Hoever are in with a chance of starting, while James Milner will likely be in there to add experience.
Phillips was recalled from his loan at Stuttgart due to the lack of options in central defence, but he has the option to re-join the German club at the end of January.
In midfield we will probably see Adam Lallana and Curtis Jones will play as the two holding midfielders given the Reds stability in midfield.
New signing Takumi Minamino, signed in late December, was impressive against the Reds for his former side RB Salzburg when the two sides met in the Champions League this season. He could make his debut as the most advanced midfielder hoping to provide for an attacking trio of Divock Origi, Rhian Brewster and Harvey Elliott.
Jordan Pickford will start in goal for the visitors. England’s No.1 hasn’t performed well when he has visited Anfield in the past, and looks vulnerable at set-pieces.
Leighton Baines and Séamus Coleman could start in the full-back positions with Yerry Mina and Mason Holgate forming the centre-back partnership.
A lack of options in midfield will probably see Gylfi Sigurðsson start next to Fabian Delph in midfield. Bernard and Theo Walcott are in contention to start on the wings supporting Cenk Tosun and the revitalised Dominic Calvert-Lewin up front.
Jürgen Klopp will probably want to exit the competition as quickly as he can to focus on the Premier League and Champions League and avoid a fixture pile up in March and April. That being said, if Liverpool were to take the competition seriously, they would have to play six games to reach the final.
Considering the sizeable gap we have in the league and with players returning from injury over the coming weeks, it is a competition we should take seriously. Only once before has an English team won this treble, so it could be a great opportunity to break another record in what has already been a breathtaking season.
That being said, I’m sure not many supporters do care about the FA Cup, but they will want to maintain their bragging rights over their local rivals. A similar Liverpool side defeated Arsenal, so victory isn’t out of the question.
Predicted final score: Liverpool 2-1 Everton