FA Cup focus on the horizon
On Monday 3rd December, the opponent on what will hopefully become a road to silverware and another couple of trips to Wembley will be learnt when the FA Cup 3rd round draw is made. Since the turn of the century, Liverpool have made the final 3 times, all against London opposition, triumphing in 2001 & 2006 against Arsenal and West Ham United but losing to Chelsea in 2012 although it could have been so different had Andy Carroll been awarded a goal for an effort adjudged not to have crossed the line.
Liverpool’s record in the cup since that defeat to Chelsea doesn’t make for good reading with Liverpool only making it past round 4 twice in those 6 campaigns, losing at that stage for the past 3 seasons to West Ham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion.
Possible opponents include any Premier League or Championship opponent or 1 of the victors in the 2nd round that occurs over this weekend with a standout tie for those in Merseyside with Tranmere Rovers facing Southport, who no doubt would love to claim a scalp at Prenton Park and then set up a meeting with Liverpool.
This time last year, the draw produced a Merseyside derby with Everton being drawn to face Liverpool and a couple of weeks later, Virgil Van Dijk had his move to Liverpool confirmed with the Dutch defender parading a Liverpool shirt in front of a Christmas tree. So it was only natural that the debate in the week leading up to the game was around the part that he’d play. He certainly played his part, scoring the winner late on to secure a 2-1 victory.
That took Liverpool through to the VAR 4th round game against West Brom which Liverpool lost, however it was the delays and the technology that were the talking points more than the result that saw Liverpool awarded a penalty by the technology that was subsequently missed by Roberto Firmino in a 3-2 defeat as the hope of lifting an 8th FA Cup was pushed back for at least another year.
Liverpool have been awarded a home draw in each of their last 5 appearances in an FA Cup draw. The last time they were drawn away from home in the initial draw was Exeter City in the 3rd round in 2016, being drawn at home to West Ham United, Plymouth Argyle, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Everton and West Bromwich Albion although Liverpool’s only victory in those home ties was against Everton in the 3rd round last year, losing in a replay to West Ham in 2016, winning the replay at Plymouth via a rare Lucas Leiva goal and as previously mentioned, losing to Wolves and West Brom. In fact, excluding replays, Liverpool have only won 1 of their last 8 FA Cup fixtures.
The draw itself will take place on BBC and BT Sport before the televised fixture of Guiseley and Fleetwood Town, scheduled to kick off at 8pm. The road to Wembley 2019 will start then and only time will tell if it’s the start of another FA Cup winning season.