Liverpool travel to the Goldsands Stadium to face Championship side Bournemouth in the FA Cup fourth round clash on Saturday (4:45 AM Pacific, 12:45 GMT), January 25, 2014, with the two sides squaring off against each other for the first time in 46 years.
Bournemouth have been enjoying a fine season since their promotion to the Championship and currently occupy a place in mid-table. The FA Cup now provides the Cherries an opportunity to put a further shine to their campaign and claim a major scalp when seven-time tournament winners Liverpool pay a visit. Eddie Howe’s men have been punching well above their weight in the Championship this season and the small club from the south coast will certainly not give the mighty Reds an easy ride on Saturday.
Liverpool are finally showing signs that they may well return to the elite of English football at the end of the season after years of struggle, and manager Brendan Rodgers will be looking to correspond their great form in the league with a similar run in the FA Cup as well. However, the Reds will be well aware of the tough task at hand away to Bournemouth and will have to take the tie seriously in order to avoid being a big name casualty of the round.
Eddie Howe will not be looking to make too many changes to the side that drew against Watford over the weekend.
Young Ryan Allsopp could be handed a start in place of Lee Camp in goal, while the back four will probably consist of Simon Francis, Tommy Elphick, Charlie Daniels and Elliott Ward.
Top goalscorer Lewis Grabban is all set to lead the line for the Cherries and the striker will be supported by the likes of Matt Ritchie, Brett Pitman and Andrew Surman. Marc Pugh and Harry Arter will most likely be marshalling the midfield, while the likes of Eunan O’Kane, Shaun MacDonald and Ryan Fraser will all be pushing for spot in the starting lineup.
Liverpool have a host of injury problems heading into the game. The likes of Daniel Agger, Jose Enrique, Lucas and Glen Johnson are definitely ruled out of the clash with various injuries, while Mamdou Sakho and Jon Flanagan are doubtful.
Brad Jones will be starting in goal for the Reds in place of Simon Mignolet, while there should not be many changes to the defensive line-up, which started against Aston Villa last week with Aly Cissokho, Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure all retaining their place. Young Martin Kelly should deputize for the injured Johnson at right-back.
Joe Allen will probably be handed a start in place of Lucas in the middle of the park, with Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard completing the midfield. Fringe players Iago Aspas and Victor Moses should get a run-out on Saturday, while talisman Luis Suarez could be handed a breather in place of Daniel Sturridge in attack.
Bournemouth (Probable XI): Allsopp; Francis, Elphick, Daniels, Ward; Pitman, Ritchie, Pugh, Arter, Surman; Grabban.
Liverpool (Probable XI): Jones; Cissokho, Skrtel, Toure, Kelly; Moses, Henderson, Allen, Gerrard, Aspas; Sturridge.
Bournemouth: D D L W D
Liverpool: L W W W D
Bournemouth vs Liverpool Prediction
It is a cliché, but in such one-off matches, the book does really go out of the window. Logic states that Liverpool should claim the tie easily, but the FA Cup tends to defy logic on many occasions and Bournemouth will be heading into the clash with nothing to lose.
Young Eddie Howe has been doing wonders with Bournemouth so far and his stock will certainly go through the roof, if he is able to guide his team to victory against Liverpool on Saturday. Brendan Rodgers has shown enough tactical nous in his relatively short career so far though, and the Northern Irishman will be the last man to take it easy against their less-glamorous opponents.
The clash looks set to be a proper high intensity FA Cup tie with both teams going for it. Although it will be far from a walk in the park for Liverpool, the Reds have enough quality and should emerge from the match victorious. Bournemouth 1 – 2 Liverpool
Bournemouth vs Liverpool TV Info
The match will be televised on Fox Deportes, Fox Sports USA 1, and ITV 1 (UK).