Man City vs Liverpool
| Thursday, December 22nd |
Carabao Cup | Etihad Stadium
8PM BST / 3PM EST
Football is back! And what a confusing anti-climax the return of Liverpool to our lives will be; mere days after an enthralling end to a World Cup that should have never happened, facing our most relevant rival in the least relevant competition, with both teams missing huge chunks of their starting XI.
Manchester City were the Premier League team whose players put up the most minutes in Qatar, including competition winner Julian Alvarez, and can be expected to produce a lineup containing a number of youngsters and backups, but the Abu Dhabi sportswashing project is filled with quality players from top to bottom and will not be an easy matchup on any day.
At any rate, The Citizens will be without Kyle Walker, Jack Grealish, John Stones, Kalvin Phillips, Phil Foden, Ederson, Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva, João Cancelo, Aymeric Laporte and the aformentioned Alvarez, while Erling Haaland and Riyad Mahrez are questionable.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Kelleher; Ramsay, Gomez ,Phillips, Tsimikas; Bajcetic, Thiago, Elliott; Carvalho, Núñez, Salah
The Reds had a finalist of their own on Sunday, with Ibrahima Konaté on the losing side, and the Frenchman is not likely to be featuring much this side of the new year. Joël Matip and Virgil van Dijk will be available, but Liverpool are just as likely to start Nat Phillips and Joe Gomez. A start for Calvin Ramsay at right-back would make a lot of sense, while Kostas Tsimikas is in line to make his 50th appearance for the club.
In midfield, Curtis Jones is still a week away from returning to training, while Arthur Melo remains a non-entity, but Naby Keïta is available for once. Stefan Bajcetic is always a threat to start in these competitions, while Harvey Elliott, James Milner and Thiago remain viable options, depending on how Jürgen Klopp wishes to utilise his squad with a Boxing Day trip to Aston Villa on the calendar.
Up top, Darwin Núñez and Mohamed Salah both love playing against City, Roberto Firmino is fresh and available, while Fabio Carvalho and upcoming superstar Ben Doak provide enticing options. Luis Díaz and Diogo Jota remain absent through injury.
What the Managers Said
Good Pep: “We know [that] against them we need to be 100 per cent concentrated on the things we have to do. We need to be really difficult to play against, we need to be really good and efficient in the moments we have the ball. We will try and they will try.”
Bald Pep: “I have a player the players in the World Cup are a better condition than were here. Sergio, Erling, Riyad miss a little bit. The players who come back competed and trained every day. Normal to keep the rhythm, the players who weren’t there to keep the rhythm. We have to do it.“
Referee: David Coote
Assistant referees: Nick Hopton, Timothy Wood
Fourth official: Paul Tierney
Kickoff is set for 8PM GMT/3PM 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.