Friday 5th January. 7:55PM. BBC One
The magic of the cup returns on Friday night as the third round proper kicks off with a mouth-watering Merseyside derby at Anfield in which both teams will fancy their respective chances. Once again, these two great clubs should provide a classic.
Who will become the first side to book their place in the hat for the fourth round draw?
Klopp Facing Coutinho Headache
Whether there’s a genuine injury or not, it looks as though star man Philippe Coutinho is unlikely to play as a move to Barcelona seemingly edges ever closer. Even so, the Reds will be expected to seal their progress to round four regardless of which XI Jurgen Klopp decides to play.
The Reds manager was scrutinised for resting several key men for last month’s 1-1 league draw, but there’s a good chance that he’ll take a similar approach in this cup encounter, not least with Mo Salah nursing a minor injury too. On a brighter note, it could be a great chance for Adam Lallana to take another positive step on the recovery trail.
Liverpool’s priorities will be with the Premier League and Champions League but this competition offers the Reds their best chance of silverware, and Klopp will need to break his duck at some point. When combined with the fact it’s the Merseyside derby, there’s no doubt that the hosts will be up for this one, especially as they look to make amends for those recent dropped points.
It should be a fantastic atmosphere under the Anfield light, but Everton won’t be there simply to make up the numbers.
Big Sam Looking For A Big Upset
The gulf between the two Merseyside clubs might not be as vast as it has been at other times in the Premier League era, but knocking Liverpool out of the cup at Anfield would still be a huge result for the Toffees. On the back of that league draw, Sam Allardyce will certainly have reason for confidence.
Everton’s perfect honeymoon under Big Sam has come to an end, however, courtesy of defeats to Bournemouth and Manchester United. Nevertheless, the team is looking far more organised and far more confident than it did during the final weeks of Ronald Koeman’s reign. A shock win here would underline it.
The visitors are still without Ross Barkley, Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman but do still boast enough quality to cause problems for the host. Wayne Rooney will be particularly eager to have a big say once more.
Even earning a replay, like they did in 2009, would be seen as a positive result. One way or another, it should be one of the ties of the round.
Liverpool V Everton Betting
Despite that league draw, Liverpool have a fantastic recent record against Everton at Anfield and that is reflected by the betting odds as the Reds are priced 2/5 favourites with Sun Bets. The Toffees are available at 7/1 while the draw is priced 7/2.
The cup clash under the Anfield lights is sure to produce an electric atmosphere but it could result in a fairly slow start, especially if Allardyce has his way. Once the fuse is lit, though, the entertainment is unlikely to stop.
Recent weeks have produced late goals in both team’s matches, and we’re expecting that trend to continue. Back more goals after the interval than before it.
Lallana’s return could be massive for the Reds, especially if Coutinho is to leave. After easing his way back in, this cup clash could be the perfect way to underline his importance to the club. A goal against the Toffees would be ideal.
It’s worth waiting for the confirmed team news to ensure he starts. If he does, though, 5/2 looks very reasonable odds indeed.