Liverpool v Norwich – The FA Cup 4th Round Preview

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Liverpool v Norwich – The FA Cup 4th Round Preview

I write this preview in the aftermath of Jürgen Klopp’s amazing Friday morning statement, where the reds head coach informed the support that this season would be his last at Anfield. The legendary manager has decided that v2.0 is to be handed off to his yet to be named successor, to complete the regeneration process. Though much of the remaining few months will be entangled with this bombshell announcement and the steps FSG will take to fill the many vacating roles at the club, it is important not to be distracted from the ongoing fixture list.

After safely navigating the EFL Cup semifinals and booking a place in that competition’s final in late February, Liverpool now undertake the 4th round of the FA Cup, after knocking out Arsenal in the previous stage. Norwich City are the adversary headed to Anfield to try and achieve an unlikely giant killing, with an opportunity to test themselves against a weakened Liverpool team. The reds will be facing off against Chelsea on Wednesday evening (at home), before a trip to Arsenal on the following Sunday. That pair of Premier League games supersede this encounter with the Canaries; therefore, I expect substantial rotation from the current Liverpool manager.

The Norwich Availability

On the injury front, The Championships 8th placed team have no absentees, which is a remarkable achievement at this stage of the season. It must be noted that their manager, David Wagner is close friends with his Liverpool counterpart, having played with his fellow countryman at Mainz. Wagner would later become the manager of Borussia Dortmund’s second team, under the direction of the first team manager, Klopp, in 2011. His departure from the Bundesliga outfit coincided with the appointment of Jürgen Klopp’s as the reds manager in 2015. That timeline prompted many to believe that he would indeed be reunited with his managerial mentor, before taking the vacant post at Huddersfield. Prior to becoming the Norwich City manager in 2023, the 52-year-old had stints at Schalke and then Young Boys, after his four-year stint at Huddersfield ended.

In terms of recent form, the Norfolk side lost their last outing, as an away trip to Elland Road ended in a 1-0 to promotion chasing Leeds. A solid 2-0 win against WBA came before that defeat, after a successful FA Cup 3rd round trip to Bristol Rovers ended in a 1-3 victory.

Below is my prediction on the starting eleven for the away side, in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The visiting team will look to frustrate and counter their opponents, with a desire to catch the possession heavy reds on the counter.

GK – Angus Gunn

RB – Jack Stacey

RCB – Shane Duffy

LCB – Ben Gibson

LB – Dimitris Giannoulis

CM – Marcelino Núñez

CM – Kenny McLean

ACM – Gabriel Sara

RW – Josh Sargent

CF – Ashley Barnes

LW – Onel Hernández

The Liverpool Availability

In terms of injures, the unavailability of Thiago Alcântara is almost over, whereas Stefan Bajčetić should be back midway through February. Joël Matip has sustained a season ending ACL injury, one that may have seen him play his last game for the club. Kostas Tsimikas has made his return to light training; however, Andy Robertson should be fit enough to take a place on the bench. Wataru Endō remains unavailable, as the Japan captain continues his participation in the Asia Cup. The Egyptian King, Mohamed Salah, is injured and will continue his recovery from a hamstring complaint away from the ongoing African Cup of Nations. Dominik Szoboszlai and Trent Alexander Arnold are now fully fit and will likely feature in the second half.

Below is my prediction on the starting eleven for the home side, where the hybrid initiative will probably be shelved whilst the vice-captain is a nonstarter.

GK – Caoimhin Kelleher

RB – Conor Bradley

RCB – Ibrahima Konaté

LCB – Jarell Quansah

LB – Owen Beck

RCM – Bobby Clark

CDM – Cutis Jones (c)

LCM – James McConnell

RW – Kaide Gordon

CF – Diogo Jota

LW – Cody Gakpo

How Will This Contest Play Out

I believe the recent news surrounding the illustrious Liverpool manager, will ignite a fire in Anfield, both on and off the pitch. The sheer quality of the reds squad should mean they will have too much firepower not to overcome their opponents. A raft of senior players will be primed to enter the fray in the second half, which is when I believe a flurry of goals will emerge.

Player to watch – Bobby Clark

Score Prediction;

Liverpool 4 – 2 Norwich

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