The first matches in the Round of 16 of the EFL Cup, also known as the “Won’t-Somebody-Please-Sponsor-Us-We’re-A-Real-Cup-Competition” Cup, will take place this Tuesday. For the neutral observer, one of the more eye-catching fixtures of that day will see Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool host Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side, a rematch between two heavyweights who are currently separated by a solitary point in the league table.
With the cup tie occurring a little over 72 hours after their match against West Bromwich Albion, it will surprise nobody to hear that changes to the Liverpool starting lineup are on the horizon. Today, that starting lineup got just a little bit clearer following the Liverpool U23’s 2-0 win over their Everton counterparts. Conspicuously absent from those proceedings were Danny Ings, Kevin Stewart, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Marko Grujic and Ovie Ejaria, all of whom trained at Melwood instead.
Ings, who has been in fine form for Michael Beale’s side during his protracted recovery, is almost certain to have a part to play against Spurs. The question is whether Ings, Daniel Sturridge, or Divock Origi will get the opportunity to feature from the start. Both Ings and Origi are in desperate need of first-team minutes, but their participation on Tuesday may come at the cost of yet another camera close-up of a forlorn Sturridge on the bench.
Elsewhere on the pitch, Ragnar Klavan and Alberto Moreno are in contention to feature, as is Lucas Leiva who made the briefest of appearances in the match against West Brom. Expect also to see a handful of the younger names either from the first whistle or on the bench. Do not, however, expect to see Mamadou Sakho, Tiago Ilori, Pedro Chirivella, Cameron Brannagan or Ben Woodburn, as they were heavily involved in the mini-derby against Everton’s U23s.
The opposition may, like Liverpool, field a blended side of regulars, fringe players, and youth. Following Spurs’ demolition of Gillingham in the prior round of the EFL Cup, manager Pochettino suggested that a few of the younger players in that fixture - such as Tom Carroll, Cameron Carter-Vickers, and Georges-Kévin Nkoudou - would likely be called upon again to face Liverpool at Anfield, stating that “the young players have the quality to impress and are very important for Tottenham for our identity.”
In the other dugout will be a manager who feels the same way about Liverpool’s youthful prospects. In terms of competitions, both clubs have bigger fish to fry this season, but supporters on both sides should look forward to catching a glimpse of what the future holds.