On January 8th (Sunday), League Two side Plymouth Argyle will visit Anfield to take on Premier League giants Liverpool as the clubs meet for the first time in over half a century.
Liverpool’s quest for their 8th FA Cup title starts this weekend having last won the competition way back in 2006 courtesy the ‘Gerrard Final’. Jurgen Norbert Klopp will look to provide his first team regulars with a much needed respite having played three high-intensity Premier League games in a weeks time.
The Reds are currently basking in a run of 24 games without a defeat at Anfield and remain huge favorites going into this game. Two times FA Cup winner Steven Gerrard was present during the draw for the 3rd round and cheekily suggested that he should get a job for this tie.
Visitors Plymouth Argyle are placed 2nd in League Two currently chasing automatic promotion (after missing out in playoffs last year). The Devon based outfit defeated fellow League Two side Mansfield in the 1st Round of the FA Cup. They overcame Newport County courtesy a Graham Carey penalty in the extra time of the replay after having previously drawn the tie at Home Park.
With 68 places separating the two sides in the English football pyramid, Adams and his players will be playing without any pressure when they visit Anfield. Argyle will be roared on by an army of 8,500 travelling fans who will occupy the Anfield Road end. The Pilgrims will try to cause a much unfancied upset that might earn them more than just an obvious progress to the next round of the competition. FA Cup sponsors Budweiser have promised to drop off thousands of bottles of beer to the home ground of 3rd round’s pluckiest underdogs.
- Liverpool will be without the services of summer arrival Sadio Mane who is off to Gabon for AFCON, playing for his home country Senegal.
- James Milner is close to recovery but might not be risked for the Argyle clash.
- Jordan Henderson suffered a heel injury against Manchester City and will remain sidelined for this fixture as well as the trip to Saint Mary’s.
- Marko Grujic is also unavailable for selection as he recovers from a tendon issue.
- Daniel Sturridge, Phillipe Coutinho and Joel Matip are “in a very good way, but not for this weekend”.
- Danny Ings and Adam Bogdan remain unavailable for selection owing to their long term injuries.
- Jurgen Klopp is expected to reshuffle the look of his team with the likes of Loris Karius, Alberto Moreno, Lucas Leiva and Divock Origi expected to start the match.
- Trent Alexander Arnold, Kevin Stewart, Ovie Ejaria and Ben Woodburn did not feature for the Under 23’s recent 6-0 win against Welsh side Bangor and are expected to feature for the Reds in front of The Kop.
- Joe Gomez is set to make his first start since October 2015, Klopp confirmed in his pre-match presser.
- Sheyi Ojo might also be included in the squad after 45 minutes of action for the Under 23’s earlier this week.
- Plymouth have recently captured the signature of former Torquay United striker Nathan Blissett who could feature at Anfield on Sunday.
- Left Back Ben Purrington is available to face the Reds after Derek Adams clarified that his substitution at half time against Barnet was not injury related.
- New signing Jakub Sokolik remains cup-tied and will be unavailable for selection having already played in the FA Cup this season for Southend.
- Argyle Striker Ryan Donaldson will miss the Liverpool tie owing to a broken jaw suffered in an accidental clash while training.
- Fellow forward Jimmy Spencer is also on the sidelines after he broke his ankle in a training ground slip.
- Liverpool have never lost an FA Cup game against a team from the fourth tier (W12 D3).
- The Reds have advanced from the FA Cup third round on each of their last five attempts, last failing to do so in 2010/11 when they were knocked out by Manchester United.
- This will be the first FA Cup meeting between Liverpool and Plymouth – they last met in a fixture of any kind in April 1962, when they played in a second tier fixture at Home Park.
- At Anfield, Liverpool haven’t conceded a goal in FA Cup competition since March 2012 against Stoke (five consecutive clean sheets since).
- The Pilgrims have been eliminated in each of their last 11 FA Cup meetings against top-flight opposition; their most recent win was against West Brom in the fifth round in the 1983/84 campaign.
- Plymouth have never won at Anfield in their entire history, drawing two and losing three games in the second tier between 1954 and 1961.
Loris Karius- Klopp confirmed yesterday that Karius has good chance to start against Plymouth on Sunday. The 23 year old summer arrival from Germany replaced Simon Mignolet between the sticks in September but was taken out of the firing line after failing to impress over a period of 10 games and being subjected to massive scrutiny. Karius was heavily criticised by pundits all across (Neville brothers and Carra, Redknapp alike) following blunders against Bournemouth and West Ham as Klopp decided to revert back to the Belgian who has earned Liverpool 13 out of 15 points ever since. It will be great occasion for a possible resurrection (of sorts), perhaps an opportunity to boost his morale and silence his critics. He has to ensure that Liverpool don’t make any ‘giant-killing’ headlines come Monday as the next blunder he makes might just be the final nail in his coffin. However a clean sheet would be a huge boost to his morale and a step forward as he looks to revive his Liverpool career.
Graham Carey- The former Celtic midfielder has been vital for the Pilgrims this season, scoring ten goals and assisting nine in all competitions, playing a pivotal part in their flying start to the season. Any problems the visitors create on Sunday will likely be caused by Carey, so Liverpool will have to keep a watchful eye on the 27-year-old. Interestingly, Carey is an ardent Liverpool supporter who is expecting members of his family (who are also Liverpool fans) to make it to Anfield for the tie.
Jurgen Klopp will be fielding a relatively ‘weakened’ side against the Pilgrims considering the Wednesday night trip to Saint Mary’s and the subsequent visit to Old Trafford on 15th. It will however be a golden opportunity for the fringe players and academy graduates alike to impress the gaffer with the Reds expected to play atleast eight games in yet another hectic January. Pilgrims will be confident on the ball and have nothing to lose (except those free buds) but will find it extremely difficult if Klopp is able to replicate the gegenpressing with his fresh-looking side on Sunday.
Going for a 3-0 win for the hosts.
Origi to find his missing shooting boots, Karius to keep a cleansheet, Ben Woodburn to set Anfield buzzing (yet again).