SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

Jurgen Klopp really wants to avoid FA Cup replay – it would lead to 2020 repeat!

A replay for Liverpool’s third round FA Cup tie against Arsenal is a possibility, but Jurgen Klopp has not shied away from voicing his desire to avoid that eventuality.

The Reds face the Gunners on Sunday for a place in the fourth round of the FA Cup, but if the 90 minutes ends in a draw, a replay will be required.

That in itself is far from ideal, especially considering Liverpool’s list of absentees, but that it would take place during the club’s winter break makes it one to avoid at all costs.

Klopp said as much in his pre-match press conference: “We have the most busy month you can imagine in December and then some teams obviously don’t play that often in January.

“We don’t have that, we have now with the semi-final, we have a proper rhythm.

“I think a rematch against Arsenal would really not be helpful, that’s how it is, because it just doesn’t fit in, [it] would kill the winter break, stuff like this. Whatever I could say about that is not too important.”

Liverpool’s winter break starts after the League Cup semi-final first leg against Fulham on January 10, and they do not return to action until the trip to Bournemouth on January 21.

It affords the players and the coaches time to rest after a hectic schedule. But if Sunday’s match ends in a draw, the replay would take place during their scheduled break, in the week commencing January 15.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, February 4, 2020: Liverpool's Adam Lewis (L) and Pedro Chirivella (R) celebrate with Under-23 manager Neil Critchley (C) after the FA Cup 4th Round Replay match between Liverpool FC and Shrewsbury Town at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Now, Klopp has previous with this exact set of circumstances, you may recall Shrewsbury in 2020, when he declared he would not take charge of the fourth round replay and his first-team players would not be involved.

Instead, academy coach Neil Critchley took charge at Anfield and led Liverpool’s youngest-ever starting lineup to a 1-0 victory.

“I said to the boys already two weeks ago that we will have a winter break,” Klopp said at the time.

“We will not be there, it will be the kids that play that game. I know that’s not very popular, but that’s the way I see it.”

Klopp was told he was disrespecting the competition, but all he did was stick to his principles and the promises he made to his team and those from the Premier League.

But while he may do all he can to avoid a dreaded replay, do not think he is not eager to get the job done in 90 minutes at the Emirates.

“You cannot really think like that (exiting FA Cup early),” Klopp said, as quoted by the Independent.

“We cannot go out of a competition just because we think we might have a problem next year. That would be a problem we have to sort then.”