Liverpool vs West Ham
| Wednesday, December 20th |
Carabao Cup | Anfield
8PM BST / 3PM EST
After making a clash with their archrivals looks like a Carabao Cup match, the hope is Liverpool — and their opponents — will attempt to make tomorrow’s Carabao Cup quarter-final resemble a competitive game of football, as the Reds host West Ham.
The Hammers have pretty much delivered results on par with expectations this season, as they sit eighth in the Premier League table — albeit on underlying numbers and a goal difference that suggest their performances haven’t quite matched up with their points accumulated — and dominated their Europa League group with 15 points from six games.
League wins over Chelsea and Tottenham, along with a 3-1 victory over Arsenal in the Carabao Cup suggest David Moyes’ men can cause trouble for big-money teams when the planets align — though they were soundly beaten 3-1 at Anfield back in September — while a recent 5-0 rollicking by Fulham indicates that consistency might be a problem for the team with the highest squad age in the league.
While Michail Antonio appears to have hit the wall physically, Jarrod Bowen and new arrival Mohamed Kudus have picked up the slack, and the latter duo have accounted for 19 goals between them in all competitions this year. There is usually some uncertainty about how seriously Premier League sides take the domestic cup competitions, but based on their preivous line-ups, there is no reason to expect anything less than first-choice starting XI from Moyes tomorrow.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Kelleher; Bradley, Gomez, Quansah, Chambers; Endō, Jones, Elliott; Diaz, Gakpo, Salah
With a frustrating home draw against Manchester United behind them and a visit from league leaders Arsenal in what could prove a pivotal game in the title race coming up on Saturday, the expectation is that Jürgen Klopp will rotate his Liverpool side heavily.
Caoimhín Kelleher has already been confirmed to start, while Joe Gomez and Jarell Quansah seem like favourite to pair at centre-back. Whether Klopp goes as young as he did in the final Europa League match and lines up Conor Bradley and Luke Chambers at fullback or puts more minutes in the legs of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kostas Tsimikas is uncertain, but don’t be surprised if it’s the former.
In midfield, Alexis Mac Allister is pain-free but still not participating in full training, while Dominik Szoboszlai carried the decision making hallmarks of somebody who’s getting a little leggy on Sunday, so starts for Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott appear on the cards. Ryan Gravenberch could be in contention despite hobbling off against United, but, with Stefan Bajcetic and Thiago still unavailable indefinitely, another start for Wataru Endō feels more likely.
Up top, Diogo Jota is back in training following his hamstring troubles but is not in contention yet, while Ben Doak will miss at least three months as he is scheduled for surgery on a torn meniscus. Thus, some combination of starting level talent in Cody Gakpo, Luis Díaz, Darwin Núñez and Mohamed Salah appears inescapable, although another start for Kaide Gordon shouldn’t be entirely ruled out.
What the Managers Said
Pep Lijnders: “We have this ambition to go into a semi-final. We feel that it’s needed for this team to develop. To play finals early in the season, it grows the team. It’s something you look forward to. And it’s a competition we give opportunities in. We will line up a strong team that hopefully can compete, and hopefully we can win the game.”
Billy McKinlay: “Going to Anfield is going to be difficult, as it always is, but it’s the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup and a big game for everybody associated with the Club, so hopefully we can go and put in a good performance and the right result.”
Referee: Tim Robinson
Assistant referees: Edward Smart, Nick Greenhalgh
Fourth official: Anthony Taylor
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.