“Liverpool will play … the winner of Bristol Rovers and Norwich City”.
Cue the Canary Nation’s biggest collective groan since Wes Burns scored to make it 2-2 at Portman Road on December 16.
Because, of course, we know what tends to happen when we go to Anfield, even when we have what we consider to be a good team. So to go there with a team that’s far removed from our finest was enough to make the sphincter flap like a corner flag in Storm Jocelyn.
To be fair, the mood has shifted a little since the draw was made – three-game unbeaten runs tend to have a positive impact on the feelgood/feelbad meter – and I was reminded of the financial benefit of playing a live TV game in front of a full house at Anfield, so the 3-1 win over Rovers in the replay was not met with quite the same resignation as the initial draw.
A narrow defeat in the epicentre of Yorkshire wasn’t the ideal prep for a trip to the heart of Merseyside but neither was it the morale-sapping humping that some of us had feared. And so we head north-west with trepidation, obviously, but also with a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude that a few weeks ago would have felt reckless.
What we desperately don’t need to happen though is to go to Anfield and end up on the receiving end of one of those disasters that are the very reason why we so despise the place.
The confidence in this group is notoriously fragile and so for it to suffer a significant blow on Sunday would be far from ideal. To depart Merseyside with a defeat but also with belief and morale intact would, in many ways, be a result.
But is there even the remotest of remote chances we could spring a massive surprise? Maybe Jurgen will rest some big names? Perhaps he’ll give the FA Cup a wide(ish) berth because he already has the Premier League, EFL Cup and the Europa League in his sights?
The answer to all of those is, we don’t know – but what I do know is that the last thing we need is for our players to be walking out into a fervent, emotionally charged Anfield that has just been delivered the news that this will be Klopp’s last season at Liverpool.
That would be our worst nightmare.
And now is our worst nightmare.
What it also means is that insignificant little old Norwich City will shrink further still into the background on Sunday and will struggle to even make it as a footnote on what is bound to be ITV Sports’ biggest love-in since the coronation.
As my old mate Phil Harris so succinctly put it…
Given how little Norwich City will matter, I’m not expecting Sam Matterface to even bother reading out our team, so it falls on me to tell you that neither Josh Sargent nor Jonny Rowe will be involved tomorrow – Sargent because of his ongoing recovery from his ankle injury and Rowe because of a broken bone in his hand.
There will also be no Angus Gunn in goal as Wagner insists George Long’s place as our cup keeper will hold firm for Anfield but, in more positive news, Grant Hanley is back in the matchday squad.
I’m sorry… I can’t tell you any Liverpool team news. I couldn’t stomach having to plough through all the Klopp stuff to find it, although I did hear somewhere that Trent Alexander-Arnold is doubtful and I know for sure that Mo Salah is not playing because Egypt are still in AFCON.
To those brave Canaries heading to Anfield tomorrow, I wish you Godspeed. And don’t forget the sick bags. 🙂