Liverpool v Cardiff
FA Cup 4th Round
Live on ITV1
Is this Liverpool’s cup season?
Despite reaching the League Cup final in his first season, Jurgen Klopp has made a bit of a mess of domestic cup competitions.
They clearly haven’t been a priority and yet you could say that for other big-name rivals who have found home silverware fairly easy to come by.
But are things starting to turn?
Klopp hasn’t done an awful lot different in terms of rotating players but this time his Reds have reached the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea later this month thanks to an impressive 2-0 second leg win at Arsenal.
And although Shrewsbury had the glory of scoring first at Anfield in the third round of the FA Cup, they were swept aside 4-1.
Decent draws are always part of the equation and the balls seem to be falling Liverpool’s way so far having been handed another home tie against non-Premier League opposition this Sunday.
Klopp might have been wary going into bat without star strikers Mo Salah and Sadio Mane if this had been an away game against a top-six Premier League side.
But, as it is, he can spend Sunday hopefully guiding his team into the fifth round before putting his feet up to watch Salah (Egypt) v Mane (Senegal) in the Africa Cup of Nations final.
Cardiff head to Anfield on the up
Cardiff lost 4-1 on their last visit to Anfield – a Premier League clash in 2018.
And sitting 20th in the Championship having suffered 15 defeats in 28 games hardly bodes well either.
However, Steve Morison’s side have flickered back to form in recent times having recorded back-to-back wins: a 2-1 home success over Nottingham Forest and a 1-0 victory at Barnsley.
It’s also encouraging that 19 of their 29 points have come on the road, suggesting they’re more than happy to play this one away from home.
Less good news is that they have four players cup-tied – Uche Ikpeazu, Max Watters, Alfie Doughty and Cody Drameh. And having sold Kieffer Moore to Bournemouth in the transfer window, they’ve lost one obvious way to ruffle Liverpool’s feathers.
The numbers are particularly lopsided and Liverpool trade at just 1.141/7 to get the job done in 90 minutes. Those who watched Manchester United fluff a hatful of chances against Middlesbrough before losing on penalties will be reminded of the dangers of wading in at short prices.
The Draw after 90 minutes is 10.09/1 while Cardiff are 2625/1 to pull off a crazy shock in regulation time.
Shrewsbury managed to score a goal at Anfield in the last round before being thumped and if something similar pans out the ‘Liverpool to win and Both teams to Score’ price looks attractive at 3.613/5.
Despite sitting just above the relegation zone, only three teams have scored more away goals than Cardiff’s 20 so don’t rule that out. In fact, let’s make it our first bet.
Liverpool average 2.5 goals per game at home in the Premier League this season and there’s enough firepower in their ranks to better that mark despite the absence of Salah and Mane.
I’m thinking three or four for the hosts. If giving a Cardiff a goal it would have to be four to cover the Liverpool (-2) at the just about odds against price of 2.021/1.
If you prefer just the plain and simple Both teams to Score, that’s 2.962/1. In the goals markets, Over 3.5 is 2.186/5.
Most of Liverpool’s attacking players are odds-on to score and that includes exciting new Colombian signing Luis Diaz.
He’s already had the Klopp hug when meeting his new boss at the training ground after returning from international duty and there’s just a chance he could be thrown in late for some minutes if Liverpool are comfortable.
I’ll base my second bet on the idea that Liverpool will go pretty strong here given Klopp’s desire to find some rhythm after a break.
With Salah away, Fabinho has been the hosts’ penalty taker and, perhaps boosted by that feeling of seeing the ball hit the net, he’s also been knocking them in from set-pieces too.
The result has been the Brazilian having a burst of four goals in his last five games, including a brace in the third round tie against Shrewsbury. He’s 16/5 (Sportsbook) to score here and that’s worth a look as an individual bet.
But I’m going to combine it with Andy Robertson getting an assist.
Perhaps forced to raise his game due to the impressive displays by stand-in Kostas Tsimikas, the Scottish left-back has been in great recent form, picking up four assists in his last three games.
Head to the Bet Builder where a Fabinho goal and a Robertson assist works out 10.09/1.
I predict waves of Liverpool attacks which hopefully results in a penalty for Fabinho and Robertson setting one up.
Starting with their 2008 final defeat to Portsmouth, Cardiff have lost six of their last seven FA Cup ties with top-flight opposition, only moving past Newcastle in round three back in 2013-14.