A Liverpool side likely managed by Peter Krawietz will host Shrewsbury in the FA Cup third round on Sunday afternoon, in one of the most uncertain fixtures in LFC history!
It has been quite a week since the 2-2 draw away to Chelsea, with a major covid outbreak closing the Reds’ training ground and forcing Pepijn Lijnders to join Jurgen Klopp in isolation.
After the League Cup semi-final clash with Arsenal was postponed, attention now turns to Sunday’s visit of Shrewsbury in the FA Cup.
Here are 10 key things to know ahead of the game.
1. Krawietz stepping up
With both Klopp and Pep Lijnders still in isolation, assistant Peter Krawietz is to take pre-match media duties on Saturday.
And the long-term assistant could be in charge on Sunday if Jurgen doesn’t test negative on Saturday and Sunday.
Klopp has admitted that he has “no idea if I will be in the stadium, leading my team in person – or watching from home.”
The situation is far from clear, but hopefully we will find out more at Krawietz’s press conference (1pm on Saturday).
2. League One middle men
Steve Cotterill’s side are currently plying their trade in League One, sitting 14th in the table and neither looking like being relegated or sealing promotion.
The Shrews enjoyed a 1-0 win at home to Sheffield Wednesday in their last outing, beating one of the league’s heavyweights on Sunday.
They haven’t suffered defeat since a loss at Doncaster on December 11th, suggesting they are in good form going into the game.
At four matches, this is their longest unbeaten run of the campaign.
3. Who’s out for Liverpool?
Let’s start with what we do know: Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita and Sadio Mane are at the Afcon. Nat Phillips and Harvey Elliott are definitely out injured. Thiago probably is. Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino could be back from injury.
Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Curtis Jones have already cleared from covid earlier, while Alisson, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip should be out of isolation if they provide negative tests.
As for the rest, it’s pure guesswork. We have no idea who or even how many players have had it this week.
4. Lineup options…?!
After Klopp had called for transparency with covid cases last month, the club now seems to have taken a ‘can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ approach and have been less transparent this week.
There were multiple new cases reported on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but whether that multiple is two or 12 we have no clue.
Rumours suggested that all the goalkeepers had it, which would make sense given that all the goalkeeping coaches had it. Alisson, therefore, will certainly play if he’s out of isolation.
The FA Youth Cup game scheduled for Friday night was postponed, with youngsters expected to flesh out the squad or even start.
Tyler Morton conducted an interview with Liverpool’s official website on Friday, which suggests he will be part of the squad!
Predicted Liverpool XI: Alisson, Van Dijk, Matip, Fabinho, Morton, Jones, Firmino and four others…
5. Our kids in 2019…
This is the second time the two teams have met in the FA Cup in the space of three seasons.
Back in 2020, Liverpool were expected to ease past Shrewsbury at New Meadow in the fourth round, but they blew a two-goal lead to draw 2-2.
In the replay at Anfield – which arrived during the ‘winter break’ and thus was boycotted by Klopp and saw Neil Critchley in charge instead – a hugely inexperienced Liverpool lineup with five debutants took to the field – one with an average age of 19.28, having been 24.04 in the initial fixture.
A calamitous Ro-Shaun Williams own goal settled the tie on Merseyside, as a Reds team featuring the likes of Jones and Elliott was roared on to victory.
6. Liverpool’s FA Cup history
It is now approaching 16 long years since Liverpool won the FA Cup, with their success in the competition dwindling under various managers.
The 2006 triumph over West Ham was the seventh and last time the Reds have won the trophy, on a Steven Gerrard-inspired day in Cardiff.
Liverpool’s first FA Cup didn’t arrive until 1965, as Bill Shankly got his hands on silverware, before another triumph in 1974 – the legendary manager’s final competitive match in charge.
Victories over Everton were secured in both 1986 and 1989, the second of which came on a hugely emotional afternoon just over a month after the Hillsborough disaster.
Liverpool also took home the trophy in 1992 and 2001, with the latter helping Gerard Houllier’s men secure a memorable cup treble.
7. Merseyside giant-killing past
Shrewsbury gave Liverpool a fright two years ago and they have history when it comes to Merseyside giant killings.
The Shrews picked up one of their most famous wins of all time back in 2003, as they dumped Everton out at the third round stage.
A 17-year-old Wayne Rooney led the line for the Blues, but he was powerless to prevent a 2-1 victory for the hosts, with veteran Nigel Jemson scoring twice.
8. Did You Know?
Liverpool may have excelled with Klopp at the helm, but it’s fair to say he and FA Cup haven’t got on too well.
Incredibly, the Reds have never even made it to the quarter-finals with the German in charge, with this now his seventh season in the competition.
While Liverpool have only been knocked out in the third round once in that time – a 2-1 defeat at Wolves in January 2019 – three fourth-round eliminations sum up their struggles.
The FA Cup may not take priority this season, but it would be nice to see a proper run this time around.
9. Coote in charge
David Coote is in charge of the weekend action, which is unlikely to go down too well with Liverpool fans.
He was on VAR duty for the infamous Merseyside derby clash at Everton last season, when Van Dijk suffered a season-ending injury and Thiago was also on the end of a shocking tackle.
Coote was the referee for Liverpool’s 2-0 win at Preston in the League Cup earlier this season, managing to officiate matters without producing a moment of controversy.
10. No UK TV
Sunday’s game isn’t live on UK television, having not been considered one of the day’s more enticing match-ups.
Fear not, though, because our matchday live blog will be available from 1.15pm (GMT), with kickoff at Anfield at 2pm.
Joanna Durkan is in charge throughout the afternoon – come and keep her company as she provides minute-by-minute updates.