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FA Cup fourth round: Liverpool, Stevenage and Wrexham stories to look out for

Sunday's FA Cup fourth round includes Liverpool's trip to Brighton, non-League Wrexham hosting Championship high-flyers Sheffield United and League Two Stevenage travelling to Championship Stoke

Image: Liverpool were beaten 3-0 at Brighton earlier this month as they return to the Amex in the fourth round of the FA Cup

From Wrexham's Hollywood story to Liverpool returning to the scene of their Brighton nightmare, we pick out the FA Cup fourth-round talking points on Sunday...

Reds return to scene of nightmare defeat

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brighton’s win against Liverpool in the Premier League

Jurgen Klopp labelled Liverpool's 3-0 loss at Brighton in the Premier League in January the worst defeat of his managerial career, which is quite some statement when you consider that spans 22 years and 1000 games.

However, such was the Reds' humbling on the south coast that day that few could really argue with that assessment from the German, who takes his side back to the Amex on Sunday for managerial contest No 10001 and a chance for swift revenge.

Liverpool saw off Wolves 1-0 in their third-round replay to set up Sunday lunchtime's return trip to Brighton, however, Klopp has been keen to avoid using the R-word in the buildup.

"We wanted to go to the next round and we knew already Brighton was the opponent," he said after that Molineux victory. "My job is not to be big mouthed, but the idea is when we go there, that we try to play better than last time."

Which should not be hard, although Klopp and Co will need to do more than simply just play better this time around to get a result against a team who have caused them a multitude of issues in recent fixtures, scoring three times in each of their past two encounters.

As the holders, though, and with this competition their best chance of silverware this season, Liverpool will have added motivation to ensure this weekend's visit to the south coast is one to remember, rather than forget, on this occasion.
Richard Morgan

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Boro boys want more cup glory

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Stevenage manager, Steve Evans says the club's shock win at Villa Park is 'magical' for the club and the town

Stevenage boss Steve Evans described their incredible third-round upset of Aston Villa as a victory to "tell the grandkids" - and will count on his players who have "hearts the size of Big Ben" to deliver again at Stoke.

The League Two promotion hopefuls stunned Villa with an amazing late turnaround by scoring twice in three minutes to produce a classic FA Cup upset.

Boro have won all three of their away ties in this run and are now aiming to become the first side in the competition's history to win in the first, second, third and fourth rounds on the road.

Key to their upset at Villa Park was their use of substitutes to take a more attacking approach late in the game. Crucially, they were still within touching distance of the hosts after a superb defensive performance.

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There were jubilant scenes in the Stevenage dressing room as the players celebrated their sensational FA Cup victory over Aston Villa

"The plan all week was make sure we were in the game at 75 minutes," said Evans. Then he unleashed the match-winners from the bench.

Dean Campbell's fresh legs won the penalty off Leander Dendoncker, which also led to the Villa man's sending off, before sub Jamie Reid dispatched the spot kick. Campbell then struck the improbable winner to keep Stevenage dreaming.

Stoke, languishing in the bottom half of the Championship, must not underestimate their lower-league opponents, who will aim to replicate their dream day at Villa.
David Richardson

Are there more Hollywood storylines for Wrexham?

Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney became joint owners of Wrexham in February 2021
Image: Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney became joint owners of Wrexham in February 2021

If silver-screen stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney had written a script for Wrexham's third-round trip to Coventry, it would've probably featured an abundance of goals, penalties, red cards and a fairytale ending for the non-league visitors.

Sometimes, reality lives up to the story. That 4-3 win at the CBS Arena has allowed the National League leaders the chance to do it all again against a Sheffield United side visiting the Racecourse Ground barely 18 months since they were a Premier League side themselves.

The elephant in the room and a fair criticism of Wrexham's position as perennial minnows at this stage is that it is entirely thanks to Reynolds and McElhenney's money that they have reached the fourth round for the first time since the year 2000.

But even so, they have had to operate within limits. Star striker Paul Mullin was lured from Cambridge to the National League - but that was from League Two, a drop of one division. Beating Championship sides back-to-back would still be some achievement.

And why not? The Red Dragons have won all 16 of their home games this season, last tasting defeat in North Wales in last season's play-offs. For the last non-league side left in this season's tournament, there might yet be another Hollywood story to tell.
Ron Walker

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