Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Liverpool preview: We’ve got to be up for the cup

Morning.

It’s Liverpool at home in the FA Cup third round this afternoon, and I suspect very strongly that Mikel Arteta will field something close to his strongest side later on. Ideally at this stage of the tournament you get a relatively friendly draw, perhaps a lower league team, which allows you to rotate and give minutes to some players who need them.

He could still do that, of course, but with a break between this game and our next league outing (assuming today’s encounter doesn’t end in a stalemate as a replay would take place in that gap), I think he’ll go with more or less the same side that played against Fulham. One or two changes wouldn’t surprise me though. There’s a question at left-back regarding Oleksandr Zinchenko’s availability. If he’s fit enough he’ll play, if not – without Takehiro Tomiyasu – there’s only really Jakub Kiwior. As I wrote during the week, it might be best to make the full-back role a little more ‘traditional’ if he has to play.

In his press conference before this one, Arteta said:

I don’t want to put players to do things that they don’t feel comfortable doing. That’s the first principle that we have to apply and play everywhere.

I don’t think he looked comfortable doing the midfield part of that role against Fulham, so let’s see what happens. In midfield, I wonder if we might see Jorginho come in, meaning both Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard play higher up the pitch than they have done of late. If not, I suppose it’d be Kai Havertz in the same configuration as Craven Cottage, because beyond that what is there? Leandro Trossard is not that guy, and Emile Smith Rowe is seemingly a forgotten man at the moment.

Up front, Gabriel Jesus should come back in for Eddie Nketiah and while I can’t see any change to the wide-men, Trossard on the left ahead of Gabriel Martinelli is a possibility – albeit a slight one. There’s also the question of whether or not there’s a change in goal, traditionally you’d see Aaron Ramsdale come in for David Raya, but I have no idea if that’s in Arteta’s thinking or not.

I know the FA Cup is a competition that some fans don’t really connect with, and while you might make a good case about how we’ve got bigger fish to fry this season, we can’t do anything but take this game as seriously as any other. This is a realistic chance for silverware, there are only four trophies every season, and we should absolutely be looking to go all the way in this one. Not just for what winning it means in and of itself, but how it might benefit a team which will take confidence from that success.

Arteta says:

There’s a big history between this competition and our club. We have a big opportunity to start again and make a beautiful journey.

As for Liverpool, we’re perhaps fortunate to be facing them without Mohamed Salah who is at AFCON, but they still have plenty of firepower, and will come to have a real go today. We did well against them at Anfield for the most part, but there’s something more unpredictable about the cup, and it’ll be interesting to see if we get sucked into an end-to-end cup tie, or if we can control things a little more than they might like. Regardless, I think we have a team capable of beating them, especially at home, and let’s hope it’s the start of a solid cup run this season.

Please join us later for live blog coverage, plus all the post-game stuff on Arseblog News. You can listen to our preview podcast right now on Patreon.

Catch you later.

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