For most fans, seeing Liverpool draw Chelsea for their first EFL Cup match of the season was met with groans and eye rolls. In the midst of a potentially season-defining run in the league and Champions League, it was the last thing they wanted.
A difficult draw—the most difficult of the round—in the least important competition the club are involved in this season isn’t what anyone wanted, and many have reacted by identifying it as the game they’d be least bothered to lose in the coming weeks.
As a game to run out the kids and the reserves in and hope for the best and, whatever the result, keep the main focus elsewhere. James Milner wouldn’t agree with that approach, though. James Milner wants to beat Chelsea and to win the EFL Cup.
“At Manchester City, winning the FA Cup was massive for us to start off and get that belief,” Milner said in an interview in the latest FourFourTwo magazine. “Then we won a couple of Premier League titles and the League Cup after that.
”We’ve had excellent chances here, two European finals and the League Cup final. If you can get over the line in the League Cup final that gives you the belief to go on and win more, and that’s what we did at Manchester City with the FA Cup.”
Winning begets winning, or at least that’s the idea. And the EFL Cup is Liverpool’s first shot at silverware this season, their first chance to win a first trophy under Jürgen Klopp and with this talented group of players. It’s a chance to start something.
First, though, there’s Chelsea. A difficult draw in the midst of a run that sees Liverpool face Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli and Manchester City and Tottenham and also Chelsea again in the league. That’s already five very tough matches in three weeks.
Still, that’s why Liverpool have sought to improve their squad depth—to cope with runs just like this and to be able to run out a strong side for all four of the competitions they’re in and to win that first trophy of the Jürgen Klopp era.
“You can see how close we are,” Milner added. “You don’t get to two European finals without being a very good team. We’re so close. It’s just about getting over the line in one, to get that winning belief.”