Usually, when the TV cameras rock up at a lower-league ground on FA Cup weekend (when they are not busy pitching up wherever Manchester United are playing), it is usually in the hope of witnessing a giant killing.
On the odd occasion, the cameras are there more in expectation – for example, I certainly think that ITV fancied their chances of a cup upset when they sent their crew to the Amex Stadium to see Brighton and Hove Albion face Newcastle United and were duly rewarded when the Magpies surrendered meekly.
So the assumption must be that everybody’s least favourite terrestrial TV channel have some hope that Oldham Athletic of League One can cause a major upset by beating seven-time winners Liverpool in the fourth round, hence their presence at Boundary Park on Sunday.
Oldham certainly have a history of giving some of the big boys a cup scare: the Latics won at Liverpool’s Merseyside rivals Everton in the third round in 2008 and were famously minutes away from beating Manchester United in the 1994 semi-final before a Mark Hughes wonder volley spared the Red Devils’ blushes, earning a replay that United won on the way to beating Chelsea in the final.
In the previous round of this year’s tournament, they beat Championship Nottingham Forest, too, although that was done just after Alex McLeish was appointed, which takes some of the shine off the achievement.
But much to the annoyance of Adrian Chiles, Roy Keane and company (mind you, everything annoys Roy Keane), I think there is zero chance of an upset here and I can totally understand why bwin make Liverpool as short as 1/5 to beat their third-tier opponents, even if that is more or less the same price they were to beat non-league Mansfield Town in round three.
And even at 23/2 to win and 5/1 to claim a draw, I am not looking to get involved with Oldham whatsoever.
The two sides met in the third round last season and after Oldham took a shock lead, Liverpool eventually ran out easy 5-1 winners when, and I’m not making this up, both Stewart Downing AND Andy Carroll scored. And they say the magic of the cup is dead.
Unfortunately for Oldham, I think the gap between the sides might be even bigger than it was last year, which has me thinking that Liverpool will not possibly mess this one up.
Much depends on what type of side Brendan Rodgers fields ahead of an important Premier League fixture at Arsenal in midweek, followed by a trip to Manchester City the following weekend. But regardless, Liverpool are in fine form and Oldham, frankly, are not.
Former Man City striker Paul Dickov is working on the tightest of budgets at Boundary Park and it is starting to tell.
Oldham lie just four points above the League One drop zone having played two games more than the sides below them and have taken a solitary point from their last eight league matches.
At home, things are terrible: Dickov’s side have won just three home games all season, losing eight (including six of the last seven) and Liverpool are going to win this comfortably if Rodgers picks any kind of side.
And of better value than the 1/5 is the 3/5 that Liverpool are winning at half-time as well as full-time. The Reds have won eight of the last 11 games in league and cup, and in all but one of those matches they have been winning at half-time, the exception being when they trailed to West Ham at Upton Park before rallying for a late win.
In fact, ten of Liverpool’s 14 wins this season have followed this pattern and it is definitely worth getting on it happening against a woefully out-of-form and out-of-sorts Oldham on Sunday.