By Christopher Boulay
Liverpool will attempt to shake off a difficult week when the club heads into it’s first FA Cup fixture of the season against the Latics of Oldham Athletic.
The club decided not to appeal the ban of striker Luis Suarez earlier this week, and he began his eight-match suspension with the match against Manchester City. Without Suarez, the club was not able to manage any goals, and fell 3-0 at Etihad Stadium.
However, the Reds look to get back to their winning ways and stay perfect in cup competitions this season against Oldham. The two clubs have not played since 1994, when Liverpool won 3-0 at Boundary Park. Liverpool will likely be looking for a decisive victory from the outset, as winning a cup is one of the club’s priorities this season.
Oldham won’t be easy, as former Scotland international Paul Dickov has his boys relishing the opportunity. The small club isn’t a stranger to the big stage. Former members of the Premier League, the Latics have an impressive cup record. In the 1990s, Oldham reached the League Cup final, as well as two FA Cup semi-finals.
To add to the club’s confidence, Dickov’s men will likely be led by former Premier League player Shefki Kuqi. The former Finnish international may be 35 years old, but he is the most important member of the Latics attack. Kuqi was in the Premier League as recent as last winter, when he signed by Newcastle United. He has eight goals for his club so far during this campaign.
Another player Scousers may be familiar with is second-choice goalkeeper for Oldham, Dean Bouzanis. The young Australian was a member of Liverpool’s reserve side from 2007 to 2011. However, Bouzanis likely won’t make an appearance in the match.
Liverpool will need a strong day from Andy Carroll, who is under building pressure for under-performing at the club. With that in mind, he will likely have a point to prove if given the starting nod. Dirk Kuyt could also feature for Kenny Dalglish’s men, as Craig Bellamy has difficulty playing so frequently with a chronic knee issue.
The midfield may look quite different with Steven Gerrard not likely starting in order to keep him fresh for Premier League play. Jonjo Shelvey and Jay Spearing could both receive calls into the lineup.
In defense, the club could give both Jamie Carragher and Sebastian Coates starts, as the two have not featured since the League Cup match against Chelsea. In addition, Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson could receive rests on the wings, as the two have logged significant minutes so far this season. Look for Martin Kelly and possibly even Fabio Aurelio to sneak into the squad. Aurelio was recently declared fully-fit, which could be good news for Enrique, who has not had many opportunities for a break.
Liverpool will be gunning to avoid anything less than a win, as a draw would require a replay at Boundary Park.
Liverpool v Oldham Athletic
When: Friday, January 6, 2000 GMT / 1500 EST
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Last FA Cup Match: Liverpool: N/A, Oldham: 2nd Round 1-0 v Southend
Probable Liverpool Starting XI:
DEF: Kelly, Carragher, Coates, Aurelio
MID: Henderson, Shelvey, Spearing, Maxi
FW: Kuyt, Carroll
Subs from: Doni, Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Gerrard, Downing, Flanagan, Adam, Bellamy
Probable Oldham Athletic Starting XI:
DEF: Black, Diamond, M’voto, Lee
MID: Wesolowski, Furman, Adeyemi, Simpson
FW: Kuqi, Scapuzzi
Subs from: Bouzanis, Clarke, Taylor, Black, Parker
Interact: What’s your final score prediction? What’s your predicted starting eleven? Comment below.