• FT

    Swansea

    2

    Arsenal

    2

  • FT

    Mansfield

    1

    Liverpool

    2

ENGLISH FA CUP

One Call Stadium

Referee: A Marriner | Attendance: 7574

* Local time based on your geographic location.

Mansfield Town

  • Matthew Green 79'

1 - 2

FT

Liverpool

  • Daniel Sturridge 7'
  • Luis Suárez 59'

Sturridge searches for perfect start

Michael Wade
Daniel Sturridge is hoping for a positive start to life with Liverpool.

The mind games have begun ahead of Liverpool's trip to Mansfield this Sunday, which is live on ESPN UK at 16.00 GMT. Stags manager Paul Cox has claimed Sunday's third-round FA Cup tie could be postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, throwing a spanner in the works as Brendan Rodgers prepares for the trip to Field Mill.

"All we can do is hope," Cox said. "We want to be able to give the best account of ourselves in front of a worldwide TV audience. It will be a massive game for the club and such a shame if the weather ruins it because the players, the chairman and the supporters all deserve it."

Meanwhile, chief executive Carolyn Radford also weighed in, warning Liverpool not to expect an easy ride, adding: "The pitch will be wet - for the diving. They are probably dreading it."

The Conference outfit may be looking to the weather to try to level the playing field but they could prove a tricky proposition for Liverpool. Two defeats in 13 games shows that they are not easy to beat while forwards Jake Speight and Matthew Green have eight goals each this season.

With a squad of full-time players and a youth academy, Mansfield - currently ninth in the fifth tier of English football with games in hand on their rivals - are a Football League side in waiting. Unluckily for them, they are welcoming a Liverpool team in rude health. Brendan Rodgers' side are brimming with confidence after convincing wins in three of their last four Premier League games, with clean sheets thrown in for good measure.

After six months in the job, Rodgers is beginning to mould the Reds' playing squad in his image and they are becoming a slick passing side capable of seeing off lesser opponents with ease while mounting a challenge to those above them.

Much of that form has been down to Luis Suarez's devastating form of late. The Uruguayan is enjoying his best spell for Liverpool and has 15 Premier League goals to his name, including four in the last two games, but there are question marks over whether he will be selected against Mansfield.

Rodgers could opt to rest Suarez after a busy festive period and, with important games against Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal coming up, new signing Daniel Sturridge may be given the chance to find his feet in a red shirt against the non-league side.

Mansfield player to watch: Alan Marriott. The goalkeeper, a veteran of over 500 professional appearances, faces a massive test of his ability if he is going to give his side a chance of earning a draw and with it a money-spinning replay at Anfield. He will also know that an eye-catching performance on TV against Liverpool's star-studded attackers could attract the interest of bigger sides and a move up the divisions. A word of warning for Marriott's opposite number: in April this year he scored a goal from his own penalty area during Mansfield's 2-0 win against Wrexham.

Liverpool player to watch: Daniel Sturridge. It is hard to second guess Rodgers' team selection, but the opportunity to blood Sturridge ahead of a tricky run of Premier League fixtures may prove too good to turn down. The former Chelsea striker, an FA Cup winner last season, will also be keen to make a good impression on his new team-mates with a goal whether as a substitute or a starter.

Key battle: Exodus Geohaghon v Liverpool attack. A journeyman central defender, Geohaghon will relish the opportunity to get stuck into the likes of Suarez, Sturridge and potential FA Cup debutant Raheem Sterling. The former England C international is not likely to match Liverpool's growing attacking options for footballing ability but he will enjoy trying. Whoever is selected by Rodgers will be keen to impress and earn the right to keep their place in his XI.

Trivia: Liverpool last faced non-league opposition in this tournament in 2008, when the Reds were forced to come from behind twice in a 5-2 defeat of Havant & Waterlooville.

Stats: In Daniel Sturridge's last seven starts in the FA Cup for Chelsea, the forward bagged himself seven goals.

Odds: The disparity between the sides is reflected on Bet365: Mansfield are a distant 13.00 while Liverpool are at very short odds of 1.20. A draw, and the chance for Mansfield to play at Anfield is 6.50, while - considering Liverpool's recent goalscoring form - a 6-0 victory is 41.00.

Prediction: There are 93 league places between the two sides but don't expect a giantkilling. A professionally prepared Liverpool side will make light work of their non-league opponents.

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