5th January 2015, 19:55 GMT
Kingsmeadow, Kingston upon Thames, London
AFC Wimbledon will welcome Liverpool in the third round of the FA Cup on Monday night. The League Two side will obviously be overwhelmed by the opposition, but the beauty of cup competitions is the upsets, and the hosts can take some inspiration from fierce rivals MK Dons, who thrashed Manchester United 4-0 and sent them out of the Capital One Cup prematurely.
Team Predictions and Tactics
The Dons would be hoping to continue a good run in this match as they have achieved three victories in their previous four matches. This means that they would have the needed confidence approaching this match.
Neal Ardley would be hoping that striker Matt Tubbs continues his fine form in front of goal. The 30 year old is on loan from Bournemouth and has scored 15 times so far this season. The club has offered the player an option to join them on a permanently and Tubbs is likely to extend his stay. But if he doesn’t, there is a possibility that this game is the last one where he dons a Dons shirt. His performance is very crucial for the hosts to win the game and he too would be hoping to impress against a big opposition. Ardley wouldn’t want to make wholesale changes to the side which won against Exeter 4-1 in its last outing but Adebayo Akinfenwa could start as he netted from the bench in the victory. The 16 stone 6 ft 1 striker lifelong Liverpool fan has said he wants to beat Liverpool and put them out of the competition. He has also scored eight goals for the club this season and would be a threat in front of goal and his physicality can be a big advantage in front of the fragile and weak Liverpool defence.
The hosts must not get intimidated, even though the occasion would certainly be of the nature. Liverpool were carrying momentum with them but they lost a 2-0 lead against Leicester on Thursday which would have certainly made them lose some confidence. The best approach Ardley can have for this game is an attacking mindset. While not putting an overload of attacking pressure, the club should certainly try to create goalscoring opportunities while ensuring their own defence stays structured. Liverpool don’t have a good defence and Wimbledon have a serious chance of taking something away from the game. They could very well ask the Reds for a replay.
Like mentioned before, the prime focus since the Leicester game has been Gerrard’s announcement that he will leave the club at the end of the season. However, Liverpool need to put all that at the back of their minds, and hope to begin a successful cup quest at the Kingsmeadow ground on Sunday, and hope they can send their departing captain with the prestigious domestic trophy.
It would be interesting to see if Gerrard would miss out this fixture now that there is an expiry date of sorts on the horizon. Brendan Rodgers has strictly said that he won’t let his imminent departure temper with the team selections, but it would obviously play a part on some occasions from now till the end of the season.
Adam Lallana is the new addition to the injury list as the 25 year old limped out of the Leicester game and won’t be risked for the game. Suso and Jon Flanagan have both returned to training, but are unlikely to be available for this game.
Rodgers has found his ideal formation in the absence of Daniel Sturridge – who looks close to a return – and would be keeping that with a change in personnel. Dejan Lovren was on the bench against Leicester City and would start in place of Mamadou Sakho. Emre Can and Martin Skrtel and likely to continue alongside him. Javier Manquillo and Alberto Moreno would start as wing-backs. Jordan Henderson would probably captain the side and play in his preferred centre role, something he can’t when he, Lucas and Gerrard are playing together. Lucas looked to be a certain exit in the summer and then in this winter window, but finds himself starting every game thanks to his excellent recent form. He will continue in the defensive position alongside Henderson. Lazar Markovic is likely to come in instead of Raheem Sterling, who has earned himself a well-deserved rest. Philippe Coutinho would continue alongside the Serb and it would be interesting to see which Liverpool striker leads the line. Mario Balotelli was out against the Foxes with an injury and its not known if he will make a return to the squad. If he is fit, he could start. Otherwise one of Fabio Borini, Rickie Lambert and 16 year old Liverpool U-21 player Sheyi Ojo.
Probable Starting Line-up: Mignolet; Can, Skrtel, Lovren; Manquillo, Henderson, Lucas, Moreno; Coutinho; Markovic; Borini
- Wimbledon FC, which was dissolved in 2004 and became MK Dons, beat Liverpool 1-0 in the 1988 FA Cup final, which is remembered as one of the greatest shocks in the FA Cup history
- Steven Gerrard is Liverpool’s highest goalscorer this season (7), followed by Raheem Sterling (6) and Adam Lallana (5) (all competitions). Interestingly, all three of them look likely to miss this game.
Player to watch out for:
Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Matt Tubbs (AFC Wimbledon)
AFC Wimbledon 1 Liverpool 3
Top Image Courtesy photodivauk.wordpress.com