Liverpool’s quest for their eighth FA Cup trophy, and a first since 2006, begins on Sunday afternoon as the Reds host League Two Plymouth Argyle at Anfield.
It’s the classic David vs Goliath clash at Anfield, and as we’ve seen before on numerous occasions, anything can happen in the cup. However, Jürgen Klopp’s side will be overwhelming favourites going into the game.
Match: Liverpool vs Plymouth Argyle – FA Cup Third Round
Date: Sunday 8th January
Time: 13:30 BST
Liverpool are unbeaten in six after the catastrophic collapse at Bournemouth, winning four and drawing two in that run, one which they should extend against Plymouth. Winning four on the bounce after drawing at home to West Ham saw confidence return to the Reds’ ranks, especially after a 1-0 home win against Manchester City on New Year’s Eve.
However, Klopp decided not to rotate for the away game at Sunderland just two days later, a decision that he may have regretted at full-time, with Liverpool drawing 2-2 courtesy of two Jermain Defoe penalties. That saw Klopp’s side miss the chance to close the gap on Chelsea to three, meaning a pick-me up against Argyle could be of use.
Sitting in second place in League Two, Plymouth’s season is going to plan so far as they seek a return to English football’s Third Division. Whilst the FA Cup isn’t priority, a trip to Anfield will be eagerly anticipated, the Pilgrims travelling contingent are unlikely to be too disappointed with a defeat.
They do come into the game off the back of a loss, having lost 1-0 at Barnet on Monday, however that result came after a December where they remained completely unbeaten for six games, keeping five clean sheets too.
Given that Klopp rotated far less than expected over a hectic festive period, it’d be wise to suggest that we will see a largely rotated side on Sunday. Regarding who isn’t available at all, Sadio Mane has jetted off for AFCON with Senegal, whilst Jordan Henderson is sidelined with the injury he picked up against Manchester City. Sunday’s game could signal the return for Philippe Coutinho from his ankle injury, albeit off the bench, whilst Joel Matip could pick up some minutes too. Klopp has indicated that Joe Gomez is set to start after proving his fitness too.
Divock Origi will hope to start after losing his place for the Reds’ last two, with Kevin Stewart, Alberto Moreno and Lucas Leiva amongst others that will hope to start. The dynamic young trio of Ovie Ejaria, Trent Alexander Arnold and Ben Woodburn could all pick up game time.
The Plymouth squad will be short of names known to the majority of fans, but one name to look out for is David Goodwillie. The Scottish striker who made a £2.8million move from Dundee United to Premier League Blackburn some years ago now plays his trade for the Green Army.
Liverpool Predicted XI: Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Lucas, Gomez, Moreno; Stewart, Can, Ejaria; Ojo, Origi, Woodburn.
Plymouth Predicted XI: McCormick; Threlkeld, Songo’o, Bradley, Miller; Carey, Fox, Jervis, Tanner; Slew, Goodwillie.
WHEN THEY LAST MET
Good lord, I had to dust off the history books for this. Liverpool last met Plymouth 55 years ago! The clash came at Plymouth in April 1962, in the Second Divison. Liverpool triumphed 3-2 that day, completing a league double having won the same fixture 2-1 at Anfield in December of 1961. Lovely stuff. Can they make it three on the bounce all these years later?
- Plymouth’s best ever FA Cup run came 10 years ago, when they reached the quarter finals before losing to Watford.
- These two teams have never played each other outside of the Second Divison.
- Liverpool (7) have won the FA Cup a joint-fourth most times with Chelsea, with Tottenham Hotspur (8), Manchester United (11) and Arsenal (12) having won the famous competition on more occasions.
PREDICTION: LIVERPOOL 2-1 PLYMOUTH
It’s unlikely that the Reds will lose this one. Focused on their league efforts, Plymouth might even rest one or two players, and Klopp will select a strong enough side to get the job done. It may well be close, but you’d be daft to predict anything other than a home win. Origi to score.