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The Premier League title race is not done and dusted just yet, but as Manchester City continue to ride off into the sunset in their quest for back-to-back top-flight crowns, a long-overdue FA Cup triumph may be appealing to some of the Anfield faithful.
Jurgen Klopp will have to make do without star men Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane for a little while longer as the Egypt and Senegal superstars prepare to lock horns in the Africa Cup of Nations final, but the arrival of £50m man Luis Diaz perhaps signals an imminent change to the famed – but ageing – front three.
Prior to the most recent international break, Liverpool struck twice against Crystal Palace through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Virgil van Dijk before Odsonne Edouard made things interesting, but an incredibly controversial penalty converted by Fabinho settled the contest 3-1 in the Reds’ favour at Selhurst Park.
Eyebrows were also raised when Liverpool put out a relatively strong side for the visit of Shrewsbury in the FA Cup just days after the postponement of their EFL Cup tie with Arsenal due to COVID-19 cases – with many of them turning out to be false positives – but the Reds eased to a 4-1 win as they seek to desperately improve their fortunes in the FA Cup.
The 2005-06 tournament represents the last time that Liverpool lifted the prestigious trophy aloft, and they have only made it as far as the fifth round once in the past six seasons, but a 22-game unbeaten streak at Anfield will certainly serve them well here.
Klopp is hopeful of having Salah and Mane back in time for the clash with Leicester City on February 10 – by which point one of them will have been crowned AFCON champion – and the Liverpool boss has hinted that it will be too soon for Luis Diaz to make his debut.
However, Harvey Elliott is set to make his return to the matchday squad after nearly five months out with his ankle problem, and Divock Origi is also in with a chance of featuring, but Thiago Alcantara has come down with a chest infection after battling past a hip injury.
Caoimhin Kelleher will certainly expect to return to the first XI for the fourth round, while Ibrahima Konate and Kostas Tsimikas will also expect to earn opportunities at the back for Liverpool.
Meanwhile, Cardiff lost defender Sean Morrison to injury 11 minutes into the contest with Barnsley, and the 31-year-old is one of three injury doubts for the visitors alongside Curtis Nelson and Joe Ralls.
Cardiff also have no fewer than four players cup-tied for this game, with Max Watters, Cody Drameh, Alfie Doughty and Ikpeazu all absent, so the youngsters will take centre stage in this battle.
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Ex-Arsenal man Mark McGuinness can look forward to a start in the back three, and 19-year-old Rubin Colwill should also be drafted in as Morison ponders his depleted options.
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Kelleher; Bradley, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Jones; Gordon, Firmino, Minamino
Cardiff City possible starting lineup:
Phillips; Flint, Vaulks, McGuinness; Ng, Pack, Wintle, Bagan; Colwill, Doyle; Hugill