The calls for Jurgen Klopp’s head have been coming in following a couple of disappointing results and tonight’s game will go no way toward stopping them. The Carabao Cup clash against Leicester City is almost a lose-lose situation for the boss. A win and nobody will bat an eyelid, except to ask why these victories can’t be replicated in the league. A loss and the noise from the critics will just echo even louder. One thing that is for certain is that it’s a game that everyone at the club will be wanting to win, to try and boost the team’s morale.
Liverpool Team News
The Carabao Cup will be a good chance to do a lot of squad rotation and start distributing game time. This rotation will begin at the goalkeeper position as Klopp has revealed that, unless anything untoward happens, Danny Ward will be starting (something that I predicted back in the Sevilla preview). This will be the first competitive fixture that Ward has played for the Reds since May 2016. The back four is quite a difficult one to predict but it’s likely that Dejan Lovren will come back in, as he has recovered from the sore back that ruled him out of the Burnley game. Jon Flanagan will be in the travelling squad but it’s unclear if he’ll make the starting XI. There is talk of Joe Gomez being Lovren’s partner, which is probably the most likely outcome at this stage. If that is the case, expect Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold to be playing as the fullbacks.
Into midfield and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain should make his first Liverpool start tonight. There was confusion on Saturday when Klopp opted for James Milner over the new signing, but that really shouldn’t happen tonight. In fact, Klopp did say that this game is a great opportunity for him and they haven’t wanted to rush him into the team since he joined on Deadline Day. Alongside him will be Marko Grujic, a player that many have seemed to have forgotten about. Apparently, he has been making big steps in his development recently and tonight will be the first time that everyone will be able to see them. Jordan Henderson was rested at the weekend so he should round out the midfield and take the Captain’s armband once again.
The front three will take a very different look tonight with Coutinho, Salah and Firmino all likely to be rested ahead of the league tie with Leicester at the weekend. Daniel Sturridge will probably be the experienced head leading the attack and Dominic Solanke could be with him, making his first competitive start for Liverpool. Both players prefer the out-and-out striker role but Sturridge will probably play further out to the left wing to compensate for the 4-4-3 formation. Finally, Ben Woodburn is usually brought out for League Cup matches and I expect tonight will be no different. Although not as hot as the usual attack, these three will cause plenty of problems all throughout the evening.
Predicted Lineup: Ward; Robertson, Lovren, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold; Grujic, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Solanke, Sturridge, Woodburn.
Leicester City Team News
The Foxes will also make several changes to their side but the biggest absentee will be Jamie Vardy. The striker has been suffering from a tight groin and will not play tonight so he can be ready for the weekend. Leicester will also be missing two big defenders as both Christian Fuchs and Robert Huth won’t be ready in time. Fuchs has been seeing a specialist for an injury to his eye, while Huth hasn’t played at all this season due to an ankle injury that he picked up during the summer.
Two players from the development squad are being called into the side. Defender Josh Knight and midfielder Hamza Choudry are both joining up with the senior side as cover but it’s not certain if either of them will play. My guess is that Knight might be preferred to Wes Morgan and pair up alongside Harry Maguire in the centre of defence.
Apart from that, Craig Shakespeare is keeping the rest of his team news under wraps but did say that he was hopeful for a cup run. It’s likely that summer signing Aleksander Dragovic will make his first career start for Leicester and will slot in at right-back. Kasper Schmeichel will probably be rested and Ben Hamer would take his position between the sticks.
Predicted Lineup: Hamer; Chilwell, Maguire, Knight, Dragovic; Gray, Iborra, Amartey, Albrighton; Slimani, Iheanacho.
With so many changes for both teams, it’s almost impossible to predict the scoreline. With both teams suffering a small stretch of poor form they will both be as desperate as each other to advance to the next round. Of course, I’m going to be optimistic and predict a 2-1 Liverpool victory.