Liverpool vs Cardiff Preview: Teams News, Tactics & Key Stats
Liverpool marks their return to the Anfield turf with the visit of Cardiff City for the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday lunchtime.
Jurgen Klopp‘s COVID-hit side saw off Shrewsbury Town 4-1 to get this far, while the Championship side needed extra time to get past Preston North End.
The Premier League title race is not done and dusted just yet, but as Manchester City continues to ride off into the sunset in their quest for back-to-back top-flight crowns, a long-overdue FA Cup triumph may be appealing to some of the Anfield faithful.
Jurgen Klopp will have to make do without star men Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane for a little while longer as the Egypt and Senegal superstars prepare to lock horns in the Africa Cup of Nations final, but the arrival of £50m man Luis Diaz perhaps signals an imminent change to the famed – but ageing – front three.
Prior to the most recent international break, Liverpool struck twice against Crystal Palace through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Virgil van Dijk before Odsonne Edouard made things interesting, but an incredibly controversial penalty converted by Fabinho settled the contest 3-1 in the Reds’ favour at Selhurst Park.
Eyebrows were also raised when Liverpool put out a relatively strong side for the visit of Shrewsbury in the FA Cup just days after the postponement of their EFL Cup tie with Arsenal due to COVID-19 cases – with many of them turning out to be false positives – but the Reds eased to a 4-1 win as they seek to desperately improve their fortunes in the FA Cup.
The 2005-06 tournament represents the last time that Liverpool lifted the prestigious trophy aloft, and they have only made it as far as the fifth round once in the past six seasons, but a 22-game unbeaten streak at Anfield will certainly serve them well here.
Successive Championship victories have been extremely difficult to come by for Cardiff during their topsy-turvy 2021-22 season, but after overcoming Nottingham Forest to round off an otherwise disappointing January, the Bluebirds repeated the trick against Barnsley.
Uche Ikpeazu was on target with 19 minutes remaining to give Steve Morison‘s side a much-needed injection of confidence before their journey to Anfield, but Cardiff are still looking over their shoulder in the second tier and may seek to prioritize survival over an unlikely cup run.
Cardiff were forced to do it the hard way against Preston in the third round but ultimately got over the line thanks to Mark Harris’s 116th-minute winner, but not since the 2013-14 season have the Bluebirds managed to advance past the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Furthermore, the 1927 champions have not made it to the quarter-finals since collecting runners-up medals in the 2007-08 edition against Portsmouth in the final, and conceding in 13 away games on the bounce before their 1-0 win at Barnsley does not bode well before a journey to Anfield.
Liverpool enters this match on a six-game winning streak against Cardiff in all competitions – winning 4-1 at Anfield in the 2018-19 Premier League – and this fixture also represents a repeat of the 2011-12 EFL Cup final, with the Reds winning on penalties.
Liverpool vs Cardiff City Head-To-Head
Cardiff City head into the game with a surprise lead in the history of this fixture, claiming 18 wins from the last 34 meetings between the sides. Liverpool have picked up two fewer wins, while the spoils have been shared twice.
Liverpool Form Guide: W-D-W-W-W
Cardiff City Form Guide: W-L-L-W-W
Klopp is hopeful of having Salah and Mane back in time for the clash with Leicester City on February 10 – by which point one of them will have been crowned AFCON champion – and the Liverpool boss has hinted that it will be too soon for Luis Diaz to make his debut.
However, Harvey Elliott is set to make his return to the matchday squad after nearly five months out with his ankle problem, and Divock Origi is also in with a chance of featuring, but Thiago Alcantara has come down with a chest infection after battling past a hip injury.
Caoimhin Kelleher will certainly expect to return to the first XI for the fourth round, while Ibrahima Konate and Kostas Tsimikas will also expect to earn opportunities at the back for Liverpool.
Meanwhile, Cardiff lost defender Sean Morrison to injury 11 minutes into the contest with Barnsley, and the 31-year-old is one of three injury doubts for the visitors alongside Curtis Nelson and Joe Ralls. Cardiff also have no fewer than four players cup-tied for this game, with Max Watters, Cody Drameh, Alfie Doughty and Ikpeazu all absent, so the youngsters will take centre stage in this battle.
Ex-Arsenal man Mark McGuinness can look forward to a start in the back three, and 19-year-old Rubin Colwill should also be drafted in as Morison ponders his depleted options.