Oldham vs. Liverpool: 3 Players for the Reds to Watch out for in FA Cup Tie

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2013

Oldham vs. Liverpool: 3 Players for the Reds to Watch out for in FA Cup Tie

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    During the 2011-12 season, Liverpool played Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup Third Round and ran out 5-1 winners as they began a journey that would end in Cup Final defeat at Wembley.

    The likes of Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll netted on the day for Liverpool, as well as current regulars Stewart Downing, Steven Gerrard and Jonjo Shelvey.

    Fast forward 13 months and the Reds are about to play the same opposition—this time in the FA Cup Fourth Round and this time away from home at Boundary Park.

    While Liverpool's recent improvement in league form has seen them rise to seventh place in the Premiership, Oldham Athletic are struggling in League One, placed 17th and just four points above the relegation zone.

    The game will be billed as a potential giant-killing opportunity for the Latics or a chance to hit another high scoreline for the Reds, but whichever your view, Oldham undoubtedly has some players that Liverpool will have to be wary of.

    Here are three players who will be key for any hope Oldham has of springing an upset.

Dean Bouzanis, Goalkeeper

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    Back in 2007 Liverpool made something of a transfer coup by signing Dean Bouzanis, a young goalkeeper who was still a schoolboy at the time.

    Rafa Benitez, then manager of the Reds, claimed he was the best goalkeeper in the world in his age group. But for one reason or another, Bouzanis never progressed sufficiently, and he was released from his Reds contract a year early on a free transfer.

    Since then, Bouzanis has signed for and established himself as the No. 1 choice for Oldham Athletic, meaning he is likely to play between the sticks against Liverpool on Sunday.

    He was on the bench last season at Anfield, unused against his former club, but should play a more active role this time around.

    Bouzanis was the Olympic goalkeeper for Australia at London 2012 last summer.

Jose Baxter, Forward

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    The top scorer for any club will always be seen as a threat to an opponent, and perhaps in the case of Oldham's leading light that goes double.

    Jose Baxter has scored nine league goals this season—a third of the Latics' total—and has already added two more in the FA Cup.

    Not only that, but he is a former Everton teenage prodigy of whom much was expected and little has been actually offered.

    Once labelled as "better than Wayne Rooney" after debuting at age 16, Baxter eventually left Everton four years later having made just seven league appearances.

    Signing for Oldham has given him the chance he wanted to play every week, and so far he has proven that it was the right decision.

    He'll be the biggest threat to the Reds on Sunday, and will be doubly-keen to hit the target and put Liverpool out given his Goodison Park background.

Lee Croft, Winger

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    Finally there's a former top-flight winger playing at Oldham Athletic this season who has lost his way somewhat in recent seasons, but remains a talented player.

    Lee Croft came through the ranks at Manchester City, playing more than 20 times before moving to Norwich City. He also enjoyed a short loan spell at Oldham early in his career, as he tried to make the breakthrough at Man City.

    Fitness and form issues meant he gradually slid down the league ladder, but Croft is a good technical player, able to play from the right or centrally in midfield, and has tallied six assists this season for Oldham while on loan from Derby County.

    He'll be hard-pressed to make the most of the ball when he has it against Liverpool, who will expect to dominate possession, but Croft does have enough about him to create good openings for his team if given the chance.


    Statistics from TransferMarkt.co.uk