Saturday, Jan 25 at 11:45 (EST), Liverpool FC will face Championship team, Bournemouth, as they go head to head in the fourth round of the FA Cup. The teams have four previous encounters, which have fallen to Liverpool’s advantage with two victories and two draws.
The Reds are dealing with a handful of injuries that now also count midfielder Lucas Leiva who hurt his knee just last week. In order to save his key players for the important derby on Tuesday against the rivals from Everton, Brendan Rodgers will likely opt to rest top scorer Luis Suarez and skipper Steven Gerrard.
After the prospect of signing Mohamed Salah was scooped out of Liverpool’s hands by Chelsea FC, the Reds’ boss stated that he would rather use Liverpool’s own young players than go out and purchase new squad players. Tomorrow’s game will be a perfect opportunity for Rodgers to show his stance and give some of the young players an opportunity to play a full 90 minutes for the first team.
Probable starters in the game are most likely key senior players Jordan Henderson in the midfield and Martin Skrtel in defense while Philippe Coutinho could be teamed up with Iago Aspas and Victor Moses instead of his usual striking partners, Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.
After an injury prone period, 23 year old Martin Kelly could start his first game in a while. The young Englishman has had many ups and downs the last few seasons, showing much potential as a first pick for the Merseyside club before succumbing to more injuries. With Glen Johnson hitting a slump, Kelly could very likely get a chance to take over the responsibility of the right back.
With Lucas Leiva absent as the holding midfielder, Joe Allen, who shares some of the Brazilians strengths, is a bet for a starting position, while Luis Alberto no doubt wishes for the same confidence from Rodgers. The 21 year old former Barcelona player has had few chances to impress his new manager since coming to the club, and this could be his chance to make a mark against the underdogs from Bournemouth.
On the bench, Liverpool will be sure to stock up on several young players that can, if all goes well, get some on-field action. Two hopefuls are Ibe and Smith. The youngest player to get playing time for Liverpool’s first team in the 2013-14 season is Jordan Ibe; a 18 year old winger who took part in August’s victory over Notts County in the League Cup. His Australian teammate, Brad Smith, is only 19 and he also saw some first team action in December against Chelsea – a game where he got little chance to make an impact. Now he can possibly add a FA appearance to his resume.
This fourth round match will be a great opportunity for Brendan Rodgers to test some of his youngsters ahead of the important Premier League game against Everton where the Reds are under pressure to claim three points after a miserable display against Aston Villa. However, while the odds are against Bournemouth it would be ill advised to dismiss them already; last year Liverpool faced Oldham at this stage and saw themselves beaten.