Liverpool will send out a weakened squad against Aston Villa in the League Cup. That much seems certain. The only question is if players like James Milner, Joe Gomez, and Divock Origi are involved—or if they’ll be saved for the bench at the Club World Cup.
Despite that, at least one prominent football figure believes the Reds have what it takes to overcome two matches in as many days, with former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger talking up Liverpool’s chances and saying fixture congestion is simply the cost of success.
“It’s the price you pay for success,” Wenger said during an appearance on BeIN Sport today. “Liverpool are a successful team at the moment, they have won the Champions League, so they have to play. It happened to Real Madrid, it happens to everybody.
“It is not in an ideal moment of the season and I can understand that but, on the other hand, you cannot complain because you are successful. They have to play. And they can beat Aston Villa with a youth team. Basically they did that against Arsenal and drew.”
It will, perhaps, come down to just how Jürgen Klopp divides his resources. Play a side of all kids, perhaps managed by Neil Critchley, and it’s hard to see those kids—no matter how talented—coming out on top against a likely fairly senior Aston Villa lineup.
If, on the other hand, it’s Pepijn Lijnders managing a side made up of players who won’t start the next day at the Club World Cup—including perhaps the likes of Milner, Gomez, and Origi—then Wenger is right that it won’t be much different than the Arsenal match.
“I don’t think it’s a big problem for the club,” Wenger added. “I believe they can adapt to get through, even if they play with a younger team. Sometimes it gives you an opportunity as well, to play some players who have come back from injury or do not play enough.”