Liverpool are on course for an unprecedented treble with the Premier League all-but wrapped up and their European and FA Cup destinies still very much alive.
The Champions League holders are scheduled to face Chelsea in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Tuesday, March 3. The world’s oldest cup competition is understandably the least of the club’s priorities in terms of landing silverware this season but the remainder of the Reds’ domestic cup campaign is far more important than it seems.
Of course, it was down to Liverpool’s academy stars to ensure Jurgen Klopp progressed to the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time in his Reds tenure. The competition has provided a platform for some of the club’s rising stars to make a name for themselves.
Without the FA Cup, we wouldn’t be talking about Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott and Neco Williams in the same esteem we do today. The reality is that participating for the Reds’ U23s can only take you so far in regards to the senior team.
Liverpool’s youngsters need experience at the deep end if they are to survive with the devestating pace of the professional game. On a night where Neil Critchley and his young Reds were expected to sink, they rose up to deliver the goods.
Also, Liverpool are just six league victories away from sealing the Championship enabling Klopp to priorities the Champions League and alternate his most trusted members for the remainder of the European campaign.
What does this do for fringe players such as James Milner, Adam Lallana, Xherdan Shaqiri and Naby Keita? Realistically for the mentioned quartet, their next likely start will come in the FA Cup.
With Lallana and Shaqiri’s imminent Liverpool futures very much up in the air, can the Reds duo really afford to surrender valuable game-time before contract negotiations and talks of exits begin at the end of the season?
The FA Cup can also be the difference in terms of loan moves. If Liverpool are to progress beyond Stamford Bridge then it grants the club’s youngsters another audition to force themselves into Klopp’s plans for next season.
Whilst the competition may have lost its gloss and pristine over the years due to the commercial and financial benefits of the Premier League and Champions League, the FA Cup very much still has a pivotal role to play for Liverpool this season.