Reds Face Tough Test in the Third Round
Although fans will have one eye on the Premier League fixture with Chelsea, Jurgen Klopp will undoubtedly see this as an opportunity to present his first piece of silverware to the Anfield faithful.
Last time out, Liverpool recorded an impressively casual victory over Southampton, while Chelsea laboured to a 0-0 draw with West Ham.
Both Klopp and Maurizio Sarri will be tempted to rotate their squad for the Carabao Cup due to the importance of the league fixture, but make no mistake, both sides will be well up for the battle at Anfield.
Liverpool – Team News and Predicted Lineup
Virgil van Dijk is the only newly injured player, and will be sidelined due to some bruising on his ribs which Klopp confirmed this week as being “uncomfortable, but I don’t think it’s much more”. Klopp confirmed in the press conference that Simon Mignolet will start in goal and Dejan Lovren “looks ready” to play.
Klopp is not known for heavily rotating his squad all in one go, regardless of the prestige of the competition. Therefore, it’s unlikely we will see the likes of Nat Phillips, Rafa Camacho, and Curtis Jones given their debuts, even though they impressed the manager during preseason.
Instead, Klopp will probably look to bring in senior players who are on the periphery of the squad, such as giving Fabinho his long-awaited debut, while maintaining influence from some of his key men. Other ‘stars’ could come off the bench if things are going pear-shaped, and likewise the youth players may get a run out if the game is going exceptionally well.
Chelsea – Team News and Predicted Lineup
The Blues on the other hand do have a couple of injury concerns to consider: Antonio Rudiger and Pedro will almost certainly miss the game through their respective shoulder injuries.
Sarri commented that Rudiger’s injury is “nothing serious”, and that he would only be out for “maybe three or four days, no more”, meaning he could return for the league fixture. Pedro however is unlikely to return in time for the weekend.
Sarri recently commented that the likes of Reuben Loftus-Cheek are “not ready” for first team football, meaning experience squad players such as Ross Barkley will get their chance to shine. Although, some considerable rotation will be required given that his side played their European and Premier League fixtures a day after Liverpool’s games, and even had their flight cancelled on the way back from Greece after defeating PAOK 1-0.
It’s difficult to analyse a game where it’s entirely unknown which players will feature from either side; but what is certain is the fact that the tactics will be largely the same regardless of the players expected to fill each role.
Sarri’s Chelsea is far more aggressive than his predecessors’ sides, and don’t conform to many of the stereotypes associated with Chelsea teams. This Chelsea like to play with a pressing and possession-based approach, but crucially, Sarri opts to utilise a very high defensive line. This is where Liverpool can really cause damage, as we did when Napoli’s high-line was torn to ribbons in pre-season.
Chelsea’s midfield, led by their maestro Jorginho, are able to ping accurate passes behind the opposition defence for their wide attackers and overlapping fullbacks to run on to, potentially subverting Liverpool’s pressing game. Their compact system could also stifle players such as Naby Keita, who thrive on having the freedom to move in the spaces between the midfield and defence.
Regardless of the players that Klopp puts out, Liverpool should have the tactical edge to advance to the next stage of the Carabao Cup, and give Chelsea some questions to answer before the weekend.
Sarri himself admitted that Liverpool are “a step forward” from Chelsea, and said “maybe in one year we will be at the same level”, further emphasising where the two clubs are currently positioned.
Therefore, I predict Liverpool will head into the weekend’s league fixture having won 3 – 1 in a highly entertaining cup match.
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