Liverpool host Chelsea in the League Cup third round on Wednesday, with rotation likely and certain figures afforded a chance to impress. Here’s who we hope to see.
The Reds have made an immaculate start to the 2018/19 season, winning all seven of their matches and topping the Premier League table.
The fixture list isn’t holding up, with Chelsea coming up against Jurgen Klopp‘s side twice in the space of four days this week.
First up is the cup meeting on Wednesday evening, before a trip to Stamford Bridge on Saturday, and Klopp is expected to ring the changes from the weekend win over Southampton.
Here are five players we are looking forward to hopefully seeing shine at Anfield, as Liverpool kick off their domestic cup campaign.
Despite Nathaniel Clyne‘s talent, he is not one of the more eye-catching players in Klopp’s squad.
The right-back remains a solid presence who can be handy during the season, though, and it makes total sense to give him a run-out against the Blues.
Trent Alexander-Arnold could do with a night off and Clyne is still searching for his first taste of action this season.
In fact, he has only made one matchday squad, at home to West Ham on the opening weekend, while he even played for the U23s in their recent 3-0 win over Swansea.
Injuries have plagued Clyne’s career in the last 12 months, much like Adam Lallana, and this will be a test of his current capabilities.
When he is on top form he is an strong defender who brings solidity to the team—it would be great to see him put in a typically Clyne-esque display on Wednesday.
Fabinho arrived this summer as the apparent cure to Liverpool’s defensive midfield issues, with the Brazilian considered one of Europe’s best in his position.
It has been a frustrating start for him, however, with Klopp making it clear that the 24-year-old is taking time to adapt to his system.
Add to that the performances of Jordan Henderson and especially Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner, and it is not too much of a shock that he only has one minute of competitive football to his name in a Reds shirt.
There should be no panic surrounding Fabinho‘s lack of game time, however, and Wednesday is surely the time to give him his full Liverpool debut.
Not the most high-profile of matches, it will allow him to thrive in a less pressurised situation, hopefully showcasing his quality on the ball, expert positional sense and defensive nous.
Fabinho will be a superb signing in the long run—the visit of Chelsea should be the night where he first gets to impress his new supporters.
If Fabinho has been virtually non-existent in a playing sense so far, fellow new arrival Naby Keita has been solid rather than spectacular.
There have been moments of sheer class, particularly that outrageous turn, run and pass away to Crystal Palace, but he is still far from being at full tilt.
The Guinean will also likely be taking time to fully adjust to the English game and Klopp’s style, but Wednesday could be made for him.
He has only made one start since August, in the 2-1 victory away to Tottenham, so he will be fresh and desperate to prove his worth.
There is a feeling that Keita is waiting to explode onto the scene, with his performances so far certainly no better than ‘quite good’.
Xherdan Shaqiri‘s Liverpool career took off on Saturday, with an excellent 45-minute showing against Southampton seeing him heavily involved in two of the Reds’ three goals.
The Swiss will be confident of earning back-to-back starts for the visit of Maurizio Sarri’s men, with at least one of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino almost certain to be rested.
There was surprise surrounding Shaqiri’s half-time withdrawal at the weekend—Klopp has since downplayed it—and he will be desperate to get back on the field as soon as possible.
Shaqiri has been a bundle of energy whenever he has been given an opportunity and it can only be healthy to start someone so keen on proving themselves.
He is the kind of player who thrives with even more responsibility, so throwing him in as one of the key men could pay off handsomely.
Tiger Woods’ much-publicised return from the golfing wilderness has been all over the news, and there are parallels to be drawn with Daniel Sturridge, albeit to a far lesser extent.
The striker seemed done and dusted as a Liverpool player once he was shipped out on loan to West Brom last season, but a strong pre-season rejuvenated him and altered Klopp’s thought process.
Some were concerned that he would still struggle to be as effective in competitive games, but the 29-year-old has proved them wrong.
An impressive goalscoring display against Paris Saint-Germain was one of his best for the Reds in a long time, and Wednesday feels like a night made for him.
Sturridge will want to perform against his former club, but most importantly, he will be hellbent on showing his manager he can be more than just a squad player this season.
It would be a huge shock if he didn’t start in place of Firmino, and up against a potentially weakened Chelsea defence he will believe he can be the difference between the two sides.
Potential XI: Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Gomez, Moreno; Fabinho, Henderson, Keita; Shaqiri, Mane, Sturridge