Liverpool looking a solid Cup bet


In full flight Liverpool’s Portuguese striker Diogo Jota (right) can worry any defence and Norwich may yet find this out first-hand tomorrow. — AFP

THE FA Cup is football’s oldest and most celebrated tournament in the world.

This weekend features the fourth round of the event, and it has the potential to furnish us with a handful of upsets and matches that could become folklore at more than just one club.

For eight-time winners Liverpool, the home fixture with Norwich City is one that they will be expected to win, and rather convincingly at that.

Were Manchester United to eke out a result like that, it might only be greeted with relief. Theirs is a club that is in a spot of bother.

The richly decorated Liverpool club will see their game as a resumption of their bid to reach a second domestic cup final this season.

In midweek, Jurgen Klopp took his Anfield squad to the final of the Carabao League Cup when they edged out Fulham in the semifinals 3-1 on aggregate, having secured a 1-1 draw on the night.

To pursue glory in both cup competitions at home is something Klopp has achieved before and will know that it is well within their reach.

They managed the domestic Cup Double in 2022, when they beat Chelsea in the final of both the FA Cup and Carabao Cup that year.

That was a season in which they also narrowly lost out in the Champions League final (0-1) to Real Madrid and the Premier League (by one point) to Manchester City.

As things stand, Liverpool will meet Chelsea again in the final of the Carabao Cup next month.

The Blues put paid to the aspirations of Middlesbrough with a 6-1 drubbing in midweek, which ensured a 6-2 aggregate win.

Norwich will probably approach the match with a game plan to hit Liverpool on the counterattack and defend in great numbers, particularly if they do go a goal in front.

If the dice do fall their way, they could yet write this one down in their annals of football upsets.

But one should exercise a bit of caution here, despite how enthralling that plot may sound. Liverpool have been merciless most of this season thus far, and Norwich might find out firsthand just what that really means.

The home side might also view this encounter as an extension to cup progress in the absence of their talisman Mohamed Salah.

The Egyptian captain is stricken with a hamstring injury sustained in a group match at the African Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.

The winger is recuperating back home in Liverpool but could fly out to join the Egyptian side should they reach the final and should his injury heal as expected.

Liverpool’s strike force of Cody Gakpo, Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez has coped well without Salah and with the support of Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott and Ryan Gravenberch.

Against the Championship side tomorrow, these lads, along with their teammates, will be expected to deliver another solid performance.

They found it a little difficult to break down Fulham in midweek, but they did create a few chances, and Fulham did play as though their lives depended on the outcome.

The Cottagers are a tough side to beat these days, and if Norwich prove the same, Liverpool will still be expected to get past them as well.

Manchester United would do well to dump Newport County out of the competition, even if there is a great gulf in wealth between the two sides.

Man United, eighth in the Premier League standings, are 75 places ahead of the League Two outfit, and manager Graham Coughlan is a huge Red Devil fan.

Following the draw, the Newport manager said: “I’ve followed them all over.

“I can’t get my head around it. It doesn’t happen to people like me.

“You must enjoy times like this. Football is tough, it’s unforgiving, and it can kick you where it hurts, so when the good times come around, they say never get too high, never get too low, but I think that’s a load of nonsense. I’m an emotional man.”

There’ll be a lot of emotion on both sides, win or lose.

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