Marcus Braddock looks ahead to today's Emirates FA Cup tie with Liverpool
This weekend, The Emirates F.A. Cup rolls into town again for the fourth round and as you may have read, we got a pretty decent draw. This brings with it, a full house and the all too brief glare of the worlds football media. There is a chance that this could be the biggest game that I'll ever write a preview for, so I'll try to keep mistakes to a tolerable level.
Our opponents are the current World and European champions and are so far unbeaten in what is increasingly looking like their first Premier League title. They have been beaten a couple of times in the cups this season with Napoli winning 2-0 at home in the Champions League in September and Aston Villa knocking them out of the League Cup in a 5-0 home win against a less familiar-looking Liverpool team.
The likelihood is that some of those less well-known names will be featuring but there was a sprinkling of start dust over the squad that faced Everton in the third round. In recent weeks, Mr Klopp has made his feelings known about the rate of games for the more successful teams. In all honesty, I can't say that I disagree with him but it would be nice to see some of the biggest stars of the game, bathed in Salopian floodlights.
Head to Head
The last and only time we've played Liverpool in a competitive game, I couldn't get a ticket so I went fishing. Although I caught a solitary Gudgeon that day, I may have got the better end of the deal as Town were well beaten in a 4-0 defeat which included goals from Stan Collymore, Jason McAteer and Robbie Fowler.
In the Premier League, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Marne have scored eleven goals each and both have four goals from cup competitions. Roberto Fimino has seven in the league and a couple in the cup competitions although those two were both winning goals in their two World Club Cup games.
In a team full of world stars, the top assist provider this season is Liverpool born, Trent Alexander-Arnold. Operating on the right flank, Alexander-Arnold seems equally adept going forward as he is defensively. The 21-year-old has also represented England throughout his youth career and has now made the progression to the full team with 9 appearances and one goal so far.
Since they won the World Club Cup, Liverpool have conceded one goal, that's one in eight games. In their last fourteen, they've only conceded in three games, once in the semi-final of the world club cup, five times against Villa, and once on Thursday night against Wolves. Throughout the season they've kept thirteen clean sheets in all competitions.
Josh Vela and Sam Hart are both available. Ryan Sears and Romain Vincalot will miss out.
Liverpool are likely to be vastly changed compared to the squad that beat Wolves.
Liverpool are an excellent team in excellent form, so it's safe to say that they'll push us as hard as anyone this season. I'm not being defeatist when I say this, but there's a chance we may have to go to a replay. Lame jokes aside, if you look at the bookies, there is one obvious favourite but the odds of a Town win aren't as stratospheric as you might imagine.
The conventional wisdom says that clubs like us should just enjoy our day in the spotlight and give a good account of ourselves. That might be decent advice but I hope we don't pay them too much respect, we'll get nothing from standing off and letting them play their game.
Wolves were very close to a result on Thursday night and I notice that when pressed Liverpool looked less assured, so maybe that's the way to go. I honestly think we can get a positive result, regardless of how good a team Liverpool are but we need to be pretty much immaculate to do so. As has already been mentioned, there have been bigger upsets. Back in the early years of the century, we beat Everton when they were one of the best teams in the country when we were in League Two. Everton named a full-strength side that day and we still beat them, so we all know what's possible. However, my expectations are realistic even if my hopes are a little high.