MK Dons vs Liverpool
| Wednesday, September 25th |
Carabao Cup | Stadium MK
7:45PM BST / 2:45PM EST
Liverpool fans and players alike will barely have had time to get themselves turned around following a close-fought 2-1 win at Chelsea on Sunday before it’s back to the grindstone for the Reds, with another trip to the South, this time to Milton Keynes and League One’s MK Dons.
The two sides have never met in official competition before, largely down the fact that the Dons were founded in 2004, following the relocation and subsequent descent into administration of Wimbledon FC, a situation that also spawned AFC Wimbledon, who have since risen to play alongside the Dons in League One.
The Buckinghamshire outfit sit 15th in the division after nine games, having drawn four and lost five, with a struggle to consistently put the ball in the back of the net near the top of their list of worries. Former Cardiff man Rhys Healey sits top of the club’s goalscoring charts having notched three goals in all competitions, while main strikers Kieran Agard and Jordan Bowery have only manager a single goal apiece.
The Dons made their way to the third round having beaten AFC Wimbledon on penalties, before thumping Southend 4-1 in the second round, and will undoubtedly be looking to the transformative power of the magic of the cup — as well as some inexperience from the opposition — as they attempt to make it to the round of 16 for only the second time in the club’s history.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Kelleher; Hoever, Gomez, Lovren, Milner; Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Keïta; Jones, Brewster, Elliott
Given the Reds’ hectic schedule, the first team’s worryingly noticeable fatigue towards the end of their last two games, and the Carabao Cup’s relative importance in the hierarchy of this season’s seven competitions — somewhere near the bottom alongside the Community Shield — it would be surprising to see a side featuring many regular starters tomorrow.
Divock Origi, Sadio Mané, Xherdan Shaqiri and Alisson Becker are all unavailable due to injury, further opening the door for youth and fringe players to stake their claim, and senior debuts for Caoimhin Kelleher, Rhian Brewster and Harvey Elliott could be on the cards.
Elsewhere, Naby Keïta has been cleared to play and could be in line for a return, while there is a chance Adam Lallana will make his official debut as a deep-lying playmaker, where he will totally avoid running into cul-de-sacs.
At the back, Joe Gomez is expected to make his first start since the Super Cup final, while Dejan Lovren could be in line for his first minutes since starting at Newcastle back in May. With no recognised senior fullbacks available to spell Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson, some improvisation and/or youth is expected, with Ki-Jana Hoever and James Milner probable solutions.
If it doesn’t feel like much is at stake here, it’s because there isn’t. The Reds have four remaining competitions that take precedence over the League Cup, and an early exit could prove a blessing in disguise as Jürgen Klopp looks to navigate his slim squad to its first Premier League title in three decades.
That said, up the young and fringe Reds!
What the Managers Said
Pep Lijnders: “For me, cup competitions are the soul of football because it represents a chance for smaller clubs to play against Premier League clubs and can give historic games for fans. That’s what we’re up against tomorrow.”
Paul Tisdale: “It’s an occasion and an opportunity to play in front of 29,000 fans, in your stadium against the European champions – let’s just enjoy it. I feel excited.”
Referee: Oliver Langford
Assistant referees: Akil Howson and Steven Meredith
Fourth official: Ben Toner
Kickoff is set for 7:45PM GMT/2:45PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.