This is, unfortunately, as busy as Liverpool are going to be for awhile. Away to Aston Villa on Saturday, and home dates on Tuesday and Sunday at Anfield against Notts County and Manchester United count as "congested" in this new reality, as the fixture list--which will hopefully include another League Cup match at some point--doesn't have more than one match per week until early December. After featuring regularly in Europe over the past decade, this is a significant change, and one that we aren't quite used to.
The hope is obviously that we won't have to get too familiar with a complete lack of any continental competition, and the League Cup presents a means to that end. It allowed for Liverpool's participation last season after lifting the trophy under Kenny Dalglish, and while many are still catching up with its new name and won't be clearing their schedules to catch every minute, it's still a competition that's provide plenty of wonderful moments for the club in the recent past. Also some not great ones.
Competition from the lower leagues have been happy to dish out a few of the not-great moments in years past, and Notts County will no doubt arrive with a view to earning what would be the upset of the round. The League One side progressed to the second round after their 3-2 comeback win at home over League Two Fleetwood Town. The visitors took the lead early, but Notts County scored three unanswered to push ahead before conceding a late consolation goal.
They're yet to win in league, however, with three losses in four to start the League One season. Their draw at Walsall two weekends ago was very nearly a win, with an injury-time strike from Yoann Arquin--who had scored the equalizer after coming on as a second-half substitute--whistled for offside. Arquin leads the side with two goals on the season, and Enoch Showunmi, Danny Haynes, and Callum McGregor got the goals in the first round win over Fleetwood. Manager Chris Kiwomya might have to do without Haynes and Showunmi, though, as the pair missed the loss to Stevenage over the weekend along with captain Dean Lucock and defender Alan Sheehan.
Johnson Wisdom Agger Cissokho
Alberto Allen Henderson
Sterling Borini Ibe
There aren't any new injuries or fitness worries, though so shortly after the win at Villa Park you have to wonder how many of the regular eleven will be involved. Brendan Rodgers has assured that "the core of the team will very much be there," though with Manchester United set to visit Anfield on Sunday, there won't be any risks taken with tired legs or minor knocks. Martin Skrtel is apparently ready by the weekend but not tomorrow, and Luis Suarez serves the seventh of his ten-match ban.
Trev's done a great job of outlining the need for changes earlier in the day, so I'll be more brief here than usual, as much of my thinking falls almost step-for-step with his. Defensively it wouldn't be surprising for Brad Jones to start but I'd like to see Mignolet again, and I want Andre Wisdom to feature (right-back maybe, but that's not in line with his preseason exploits), with someone in central defense, so we'll guess that Kolo Toure is rested and Daniel Agger gets the captaincy. We should see Aly Cissokho in his full debut, as he looked fit and ready after coming on against Villa.
In midfield and attack there are ready-made replacements for the starting eleven that Rodgers has used in Liverpool's first two matches; Luis Alberto and Joe Allen should start with one of Lucas or Jordan Henderson involved as well, and in attack there's a band of three with Raheem Sterling, Fabio Borini, and Jordon Ibe set to come in. That's an awfully young forward line, but one with enough dynamism and workrate to hopefully get the goals and give a hard-earned rest to Iago Aspas, Daniel Sturidge, and Philippe Coutinho.
Kickoff tomorrow is set for 7:45PM BST/2:45PM EST, with Sky Sports 1 airing the match live in the UK and BeIN Sport in the US. We'll have the morning's news and notes ahead of kickoff, with the matchday thread running slightly later than usual given the start time. Team sheets and ways to watch will be included as usual, and hopefully the evening ends with Liverpool earning progress to the third round of the League Cup.