However, England’s two standout sides in recent years still managed to put on a riveting show, with City’s unfathomable depth helping them to edge their rivals, dumping the holders out by a score of 3-2.
Missing key personnel such as World Cup finalist Ibrahima Konate and Virgil Van Dijk—who had played more minutes than any other Premier League player going into his quarterfinal run with the Dutch national team—the Reds were noticeably less solid at the back, leading to multiple defensive errors in the lead up to goal concessions.
“We should’ve defended all three goals much better,” Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp lamented in his post-match press conference.
“[The] third goal especially, we are not switched on when they start their little routine.
“We played against probably the best team in the world, unbelievable how they are. It’s normal that you struggle in moments, I accept that.
“I will not count too much now because we won’t play every three days against Man City, but we can do better.”
The German manager did take issue with the FA declining to make use of VAR in the League Cup until the semifinal rounds, arguing that it’s use could’ve helped his side in a rough-and-tumble, high-octane affair that saw its fair share of robust challenges:
“The refs are used to VAR and all of a sudden you tell them today not,” Klopp said.
“It looked like in a couple of situations that they were waiting or thinking like there was VAR.
“I think it would make sense to use it, especially in a game like this.”
There were a few other absences on the day. With Roberto Firmino already a late scratch following a calf injury in training, James Milner was substituted early in the first half with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
“Milly is convinced it’s only a little, little, little thing,” Klopp explained.
“But he felt something and we just wanted to make sure it’s not getting worse. It’s something in the hamstring, I don’t know. We have to see.”
The Reds have a quick turnaround, taking on Aston Villa on Boxing Day in the Premier League.