This time next week, Liverpool will be beginning a 2 week break between matches as the 1stinternational break of the new season arrives after the conclusion of 4 league matches. Supporters will also be able to cast their eyes over the opposition we will have been drawn against on hopefully the 1st steps to lifting a trophy as both the Carabao Cup and Champions League draws take place.
Today, Anfield will witness its final league game for 4 weeks, although depending on the Champions League draw it may only be 3 and a half weeks until the stadium witnesses competitive football for the reds with away trips to Leicester and Wembley for the rescheduled match with Spurs bookending the international break. The next league game at Anfield will see Southampton arrive with the ineligible Danny Ings in the middle of another potentially busy week with the 1st Champions League group stage match preceding the clash and the Carabao Cup 3rd round closing the busy week.
The Carabao Cup 3rd round draw date, time and even venue has yet to be confirmed by the sponsors, although logic would dictate it to occur on Wednesday either before the televised match (as with the 2nd round draw) of Nottingham Forest v Newcastle United or immediately following the final whistle. History suggests it could be in the early hours of Wednesday or Thursday morning. Last year’s 3rd round draw took place in Beijing around 4am UK time and the draw for the 1st round of the competition this year took place in Vietnam. Whilst the competition is the least of priorities considering the other competitions Liverpool are involved in, it is also the chance to get a piece of silverware in the cabinet and as the record holders of the competition, I always like to see us do well, even if for the earlier rounds, the depth of our squad is utilised. The agony of losing to Manchester City in the shootout at Wembley may not have had the same pain as the defeat in Basel to Sevilla 3 months later in the European version of the league cup but when you are in a final of any competition you want to win it.
The raw pain of defeat in Kiev will hopefully become a blur and distant memory soon as the road to Madrid begins with the draw and relevant proceedings beginning from around 5pm GMT on Thursday in Monaco. Less than 24 hours before that, Liverpool will finally learn if they will be in pot 2 or pot 3 with the Benfica PAOK tie delicately poised at 1-1 going into Wednesday’s return leg. Progression for Benfica will mean Liverpool will remain in pot 3 however a surprise result for PAOK would see Liverpool take a place in pot 2 meaning they would be unable to be paired with Roma or Porto, whom they faced on the road to Kiev and they would also avoid a meeting with Jurgen Klopp’s former side Borussia Dortmund in the group stages of the competition. Pot 4 contains Roberto Firmino’s former side Hoffenheim who Liverpool got past in the qualification stage to begin their road to Kiev but also Serie A giants Inter Milan, a side Liverpool beat in the knockout stages in 2008. Pot 1 contains 3 Spanish sides giving Liverpool the possibility of a rematch with their conquerors in Kiev of Real Madrid or a possible return to Anfield for Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho in the shape of La Liga champions Barcelona.
Liverpool last won a trophy in Feburary 2012 and it is hoped this is the year that everything falls into place to deliver a long awaited league title but also a cup. Liverpool have reached a cup final 3 times since Jurgen Klopp took over in October 2015, suffering defeats to Manchester City, Sevilla and Real Madrid.