In the grand order of footballing things, the League Cup always falls somewhere down the pecking order, at least for sides that aspire to winning the Champions League and Premier League. Especially, perhaps, in a compressed an overloaded season.
Despite that, Liverpool want to win it. They want to beat Lincoln City, then beat Leicester or Arsenal in the fourth round, and eventually make it to and win the final on February 28th. And Pepijn Lijnders says they have the squad depth to do just that.
“The most important thing is how we selected our squad and evolved our squad over the last years gives us every year more possibility to attack each competition,” Lijnders said at the pre-match press conference where he stood in for Jürgen Klopp.
“Last year and the year before we talked about talent and giving players opportunity [in the league cup] but this phase is gone and the players who were talent in those moments are players who have a position in our squad very important role to play.”
Certainly players like Curtis Jones, Neco Williams, and Harvey Elliott who will be expected to start aren’t the completely untested youth players they were in past seasons. And new big money attacking signing Diogo Jota is expected to make his debut.
Plus the club’s ever increasing depth in midfield now means that players who in the past might have been rested in the League Cup will have fewer opportunities in the league and Europe and so will need to start in it to keep their match sharpness.
“The team tomorrow will be a strong team,” Lijnders added. “I think some of you guys will be surprised.”