Liverpool’s European commitments saved them the embarrassment of having to play in the second round of the League Cup this week. Unlucky, Everton. But the Reds won’t be able to put off the competition forever, and last night they learned who they will face in the third round.
The good news: it’s 15th-place League One side MK Dons. The bad: it’s on the road.
The match, set to take place the week starting September 23rd, all but ensures four straight away fixtures for the European Champions. The fixture list sets up as following:
- Sept 17-18: Champions League Matchday One (Home or Away)
- Sept 22: Chelsea Away
- ~Sept 24-25: MK Dons Away
- Sept 28: Shef United Away
- Oct 1-2: Champions League Matchday Two (Home or Away)
One of those CL slots will almost certainly be away. Chelsea aside (Stamford Bridge is rarely happy hunting grounds, regardless of form), the domestic fixtures aren’t so intimidating. But away from Anfield, especially in Europe, is generally not as fun for the players and supporters alike.
The Champions League draw (and ensuing schedule) could possibly heap more difficulty on the Reds: there are fixture dates between Manchester United (away) and Tottenham (home), as well as between Aston Villa (away) and Manchester City (home). It would be nice if travel were kept to a minimum, especially before City.
As far as the League Cup goes, the draw is still better than Liverpool have had in a long time. It’s the first non-Premier League club Liverpool have drawn in a domestic cup since drawing then-Championship side Wolverhampton in the fourth round of the FA Cup in January 2017 (a fixture Liverpool went on to lose 2-1, capping off a disastrous Sadio Mane-less January).