Liverpool FC could be on their way to an extraordinary quadruple this season, with the Club World Cup championship trophy already on their mantlepiece, and what appears to be a lock on their first-ever English Premier League title — and first top-flight title since 1990 — with a 13-point lead on the table over second-place Leicester. But Manager Jurgen Klopp has decided to roll the dice on the quadruple when he fields a weakened side in Liverpool’s 2020 FA Cup debut on Sunday.
The Reds host Everton FC in the third-round FA Cup match, making the match the second Merseyside derby in a month. Liverpool took an away victory in the Premier League on December 4. The game is also a rematch of last season’s third-round FA Cup showdown. Liverpool won that one, as well.
Playing on the home ground of their Merseyside rivals also appears to be a significant disadvantage for the Toffees. According to ESPN, Everton have not won a match at Anfield since 1999 — going 23 straight matches and 20 years without tasting victory in any competition on the iconic ground.
But even though Liverpool have a chance at history, Manager Jurgen Klopp appears likely to field a severely weakened side, with the Reds playing their fourth game in 11 days after returning to England with their Club World Cup final victory over Brazilian champs Flamengo on December 21 in Qatar.
New Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti remains one of only two managers to score a victory over Liverpool this season. But at the time, he was still at the helm of Italian Serie A side SSC Napoli, taking a 2-0 victory in Naples back on September 19 of last year.
“At Napoli it was the same, we were able to do a great performance because to beat Liverpool you have to do a great performance,” Ancelotti, who has a 2-1 record in the league since taking over at Goodison Park, said on Saturday, as quoted by The Independent. “A normal performance is not enough.”
Liverpool were thumped in the Carabao Cup quarterfinal by Aston Villa on December 17, 5-0, also fielding a second-string side just one day before playing their opening Club World Cup match in Doha, Qatar.
Though Klopp appears likely, if not certain, to test the younger players on his squad in the FA Cup third-round Merseyside derby, oddsmakers nonetheless see Liverpool as prohibitive favorites. While Everton have been installed at 3-1 odds to win the game outright, Liverpool’s odds are 17-20, according to the lines published by Bleacher Report. Odds on the FA Cup match ending in a draw are also set at 3-1.
Kickoff for the third-round match is set for 4 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time at Anfield football ground in Liverpool. The match will be televised in the United Kingdom by BBC One. In the United States, Liverpool FC vs. Everton FC may be viewed only online, with streaming video provided by the ESPN+ subscription service.