There are caveats, of course. Liverpool’s performance against Wolves in their FA Cup third round replay wasn’t spectacular. The young group sent out would probably struggle against better and sharper competition. But they won the game. And played hard.
After a first choice eleven failed to beat Wolves the first time out then dropped the club’s worst performance of the season in a 3-0 loss to Brighton, a win and willingness counts for a lot—but it may not guarantee another start on the weekend for the players.
“I don’t think it would be right after one game to say that’s the team now for the next eight weeks,” Jürgen Klopp noted. “So, let’s have a look. I hope that Darwin is coming back in training tomorrow or Thursday, so he might be then in contention, of course.
“But we have now this game and then four days to train and then after that I think five or six days to train until the next game. We rotate a lot if the players are available, the door is open for everybody. We have to fight. Who is ready to fight has a chance to play.”
It’s hard to imagine, though, that at least a few of Tuesday’s starters wouldn’t be given a chance against Chelsea—with midfielders Naby Keïta and young Stefan Bajčetić the likeliest two candidates given their performances and the club’s struggles in midfield.
Elsewhere, while the forward line worked hard on Tuesday, the trio of Fabio Carvalho, Cody Gakpo, and Harvey Elliott lacked pace any real vertical threat, a situation that made chance creation difficult despite the more solid play of the midfield behind them.
Chelsea will pose a sterner test than Wolves, even if the Blues have been struggling more of late even than Klopp’s Reds. Whatever side plays on Saturday will need to show the willingness of Tuesday’s team—but will also likely need more than willingness.