Liverpool will be hoping to progress to the FA Cup fifth round when they take on Shrewsbury Town at Montgomery Waters Meadow on Sunday.
FA Cup action has resumed this weekend with fourth round fixtures underway, as teams look to take a step closer to clinching English football’s most illustrious cup competition. Liverpool will be in action on Sunday, looking to reach the fifth round for the first time in five years, when they lock horns with Shrewsbury Town at Montgomery Waters Meadow.
Shrewsbury Town are one of the minnows that have notched up some impressive results in the FA Cup thus far this season. The Shrews first needed a first round replay to get past Bradford City before beating another fourth division side Mansfield Town in the second round. Sam Ricketts & co. then notched up their most impressive result so far, beating Bristol City in the third round.
Liverpool, on the other hand, entered the competition in the third round, where they prevailed in a Merseyside derby, beating Everton 1-0 courtesy a second half strike by Curtis Jones. The Reds have been on a tremendous run of form, with their only domestic defeat this term coming in the Carabao Cup, where a weakened side was beaten by Aston Villa in the quarter-finals.
Liverpool were victorious the only previous time they clashed with Shrewsbury, beating them 4-0 in the FA Cup fourth round in 1996. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Sam Ricketts has a near-full strength squad to boast of ahead of the visit of Liverpool. On Saturday, the Shrewsbury Town manager will be without just one first-team player, with Ryan Sears a long-term absentee due to a cruciate ligament rupture.
Ricketts ought to name a strong lineup, seeing as Shrewsbury’s most recent encounter was played over a week ago. Ricketts will once again name the team in a 3-4-3 formation, which will appear as more of a 5-4-1 in the defensive phase, with the wing-backs being the workhorses in the team.
Max O’Leary will likely take his place in goal, with Joe Murphy being his deputy. Ethan Ebank-Landell is the leader at the back for Shrewsbury, with the 27-year-old looking to marshall the defence. Ebanks-Landell will have Aaron Pierre and Manchester United academy product Ro-Shaun Williams for company in the back three.
Sam Hart, who has joined from Blackburn Rovers this month, is in contention to make his debut for Shrewsbury and should start as the left wing-back. On the opposite flank, Donald Love is a certain starter as the right wing-back. Ollie Norburn and Sean Goss will take up the central positions, looking to stifle Liverpool during their build-up play.
Upfront, the onus will be on Shaun Whalley to provide the creative impetus, with Daniel Udoh likely to lead the line for Shrewsbury. Josh Laurent, usually deployed in midfield, will assume a more advanced role on Sunday, starting on the left flank.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): O’Leary; Williams, Ebanks-Landell, Pierre; Love, Norburn, Goss, Hart; Whalley, Udoh, Laurent
Jurgen Klopp received a huge blow ahead of this game, with key winger Sadio Mane sustaining a hamstring injury against last time out Wolves. However, Mane would have not been involved against Shrewsbury Town anyway, with the Liverpool manager choosing to blood in youngsters and hand fringe players a chance in cup competitions.
The only other players on the sidelines are James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri, who will both miss out against Shrewsbury. Meanwhile, Klopp will hope that the likes of Dejan Lovren, Naby Keita and Joel Matip are all fit enough to make their long-awaited returns from their respective injuries.
Matip is possibly a certain starter, seeing as he has been a part of the matchday squad in each of the last two games. The Cameroonian international will likely have Lovren as his partner at the heart of the defence, with the Croat rejoining training this week.
The full-back pairing should comprise of impressive youngsters Neco Williams and Yasser Larouci, with the former, in particular, revelling in his two senior appearances so far. Adrian will start between the sticks, getting another chance to impress in the FA Cup.
Fabinho has appeared off the bench in each of the last two games and could be in contention to start on Sunday. However, seeing as he could be an option against West Ham United next week. To that end, the three-man midfield unit that featured against Everton in the fourth round should start again.
Adam Lallana has relished playing as the holding midfielder and will start at the base of the three-man midfield. Pedro Chirivella will provide defensive support while also recycling possession. Curtis Jones, who was the difference maker in the previous round, will provide the forward thrust from midfield.
Harvey Elliott has been the star among the youngsters on show for Liverpool this season with his pace and trickery. The teenager will provide the creative impetus from the right flank, with Divock Origi starting on the left. Takumi Minamino will essay the false nine role, similar to how Roberto Firmino operates for Liverpool.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Adrian; Williams, Lovren, Matip, Larouci; Chirivella, Lallana, Jones; Elliott, Minamino, Origi
- Shrewsbury Town and Liverpool have only faced each other once previously, an FA Cup fourth round tie back in February 1996 – the Reds won 4-0 at Gay Meadow on their way to reaching the final that season.
- Shrewsbury have been eliminated from the FA Cup by Premier League opponents in three of their last four seasons, losing to Manchester United in 2015-16, West Ham United in 2017-18 and Wolves in 2018-19.
- In the Premier League era, Liverpool have progressed from 15 of their 17 FA Cup ties against sides from outside the top two tiers of English football, going out against Bolton Wanderers in 1992-93 and Oldham Athletic in 2012-13.
- Shrewsbury Town have lost just one of their last 17 home FA Cup matches (W10 D6), a 0-3 defeat against Manchester United in February 2016.
- Liverpool have scored in each of their last 11 away FA Cup games since a 1-0 loss at Manchester United in 2011.
Player to Watch
Since joining from Red Bull Salzburg, Minamino has been slowly integrated into the first-team setup by Jurgen Klopp. In fact, since making his Liverpool debut against Everton in the FA Cup fourth round, the Japanese forward has only made one further appearance, which came against Wolves earlier this week.
With Sadio Mane out for an indefinite period, Minamino is essentially competing with Divock Origi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for one spot in the side, provided Mane is out for a considerable period. This is, therefore, his chance to make an impression on Klopp and cement his place in the side.
A game changing performance, despite the stature of Shrewsbury Town, could go a long way in what is going to be a long season ahead when the run-in is going to be congested. A big occasion for Minamino, will he rise to the fore?
Shrewsbury Town 0-4 Liverpool
Honestly, this match can only go one way, even with all the rotations that Jurgen Klopp will make. In fact, despite the wholesale changes, a number of first-team quality stars will be starting, with the presence of Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip at the heart of the Liverpool defence ensuring a clean sheet.
The quality of the pitch in Shrewsbury could perhaps, play a role, but the likes of Harvey Elliott, Curtis Jones and Pedro Chirivella have shown enough quality to see Liverpool through and more. With Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi looking to impress, the Reds might just run riot. The Hard Tackle, thus, predicts a 4-0 win for Klopp & co.