After what seems an eternity without domestic football, we finally have a weekend packed with some entertaining fixtures. The FA Cup 4th round is here, and Liverpool resume their schedule with Cardiff set to visit Anfield this Sunday lunchtime.
With the AFCON still a Final away from being complete, both Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah will still be absent for the home side. Naby Keita has now returned, and the Reds will also be welcoming back some much welcome first team faces. Harvey Elliott is set to make his long awaited return to action (after a dislocated ankle), with a training game completed this past week. Thiago Alcantara has been back in full training for a week, and his hip complaint will hopefully now be fully recovered from. Luis Diaz is the major player of note, with his arrival to the club perhaps seeing him make an appearance from the bench. The newly signed Columbian is an exciting talent, and a particular score line (this weekend) may make his home debut inevitable.
The Reds will have nearly a full quota of players to choose from, with only the AFCON designated players and Divock Origi (injured) absent. Jurgen Klopp still has his eyes on all four competitions this term, and will surely use this rest period as a way to introduce a full strength side. There will be some players that require minutes, but the core of the team should be elite.
Cardiff are the yo-yo team that are now struggling within the Championship. A disappointing season thus far will perhaps see the FA Cup tie offer some form of respite for them. With a critical second half of the season ahead, they will not want to be humiliated by a goal hungry Liverpool, and should also look to go full strength.
Cardiff City are a goal shy outfit this season, with no player scoring more than 5 goals so far. With a narrow 0-1 win away to Barnsley this past week, they will surely look to keep the 5-3-2 shape and counter the Reds wherever possible. Will Vaulks will have a key part to play in trying to challenge a strong reds midfield, and his influence will be vital to Cardiff’s chances.
The FA Cup 4th round will see some surprise wins, and memorable performances this weekend. The notion that that could transpire at Anfield is a stretch to say the least. To see a giant killing would make for an unbelievable story, however Liverpool have spent the season looking to attack teams at will, and their ruthless nature will be near impossible to overcome.
The game will be entertaining, and the moments where Cardiff exploit Liverpools high line, will make for an intriguing watch. The massive gulf between the two sides (and array of talent within the Premier League team), mean only one result is feasible. This could be a long afternoon for the visitors, and Liverpools incisive play should see the Welsh side carved open at will.
Player to watch – Harvey Elliott
Liverpool 4 – 0 Cardiff City