In a matchup between Liverpool and Bournemouth—which no, is not another film set in the fictional universe of The Bourne Trilogy—the Reds will be the clear favorites. Liverpool, after all, are currently fourth in the Premier League, putting them 32 spots ahead of Bournemouth in English football.
While Liverpool's primary goal this season will be securing a spot in a European tournament—namely the Champions League—the Reds won't take this FA Cup tie lightly. But for a Bournemouth squad mid-table in the Championship, beating Liverpool would likely be one of the highlights of the year.
It should be an interesting contest. Let's break it down.
When: Saturday, January 25 at 7:45 a.m. ET
Saturday, January 25 at 12:45 p.m. GMT
Where: Dean Court Ground, Bournemouth, England,
Watch: Fox Sports 1; Fox Soccer 2Go
Don't expect to see the full Liverpool squad in this one. According to Mike Whalley of ESPN, Glen Johnson, Lucas Leiva and Jose Enrique will miss the match due to injury, while Simon Mignolet will be given the match off.
As manager Brendan Rodgers notes via Whalley's report, the Reds don't have much of a choice but to go with a squad at less than full strength:
We don’t have a lot of choice at the moment. We’ve got 15 players who’ve been training. We’ll obviously call on some other younger players to come into the squad.
The FA Cup is a competition we want to do well in. The history of the club dictates that it’s about winning trophies, and this game is important for us.
And not everyone feels as though Liverpool should place any priority on this game at all. The "This is Anfield" blog (via the Metro) feels Rodgers should sit the stars in this one:
The manager should resist the temptation to use his star names this weekend, primarily [Luis] Suarez, who has started every Premier League game since missing the opening five through suspension.
Daniel Sturridge is making his way back from injury and could be used against the Championship side. He, along with [Iago] Aspas, [Victor] Moses and youngster Jordon Ibe, should be enough in attack for Liverpool.
Why bother risking other injuries or wearing out key players for the Premier League run, the argument goes. For Reds fans only desiring a top-four finish, the logic is sound.
Of course, Bournemouth will be going all out in this one. After all, one of the club's most famous victories was the 2-0 third-round victory over Manchester United on January 7, 1984. That team was managed by a young Harry Redknapp, now the head honcho for Queens Park Rangers.
Replicating the feat against Liverpool would be a famous victory, indeed, though Bournemouth was a Third Division team at the time. It's unlikely a Championship team beating a Premier League squad would set off nearly the same amount of shockwaves through English football.
But it certainly would be quite the surprise.
So will an upset happen? Probably not. Even at home, with Liverpool at less than full strength and the Reds perhaps overlooking this match a bit with a Merseyside derby just days after, Bournemouth are still the inferior side.
But don't expect a blowout, either. There are too many factors working in their favor, especially if key players like Suarez or Sturridge start the match on the bench. Liverpool will prevail, but by a tighter margin than you might expect.
Liverpool win, 2-1.