Liverpool head to Aston Villa in the League Cup quarter-final on Tuesday evening, with a team of youngsters hoping to impress.
Aston Villa vs. Liverpool
Tuesday, December 17, 2019 – 7.45pm (GMT)
League Cup Quarter-Final
Referee: Lee Mason
Such is the intense nature of the league fixtures, a mini-break from those commitments means Liverpool now have some welcome respite.
This has forced Klopp to make a decision with regards to personnel, leaving the kids to tackle Villa in the domestic cup.
It is the right move from the manager, and while it leaves the Reds as underdogs to progress, this is a wonderful opportunity for young players to shine.
There isn’t a senior figure involved and under-23s boss Neil Critchley will take charge while Klopp is in Qatar with the senior players.
This will be one of the least experienced starting lineups in Liverpool’s history, but they are a talented bunch capable of holding their own.
It will be fascinating to see how they fare at Villa, as the Reds look to keep their hopes of a remarkable quintuple alive.
The League Cup is arguably the least important competition this season, but progression would still be something to celebrate.
As mentioned, a hugely inexperienced squad has been named for the game, with the senior figures busy focusing on the Club World Cup.
Two youngsters who won’t be involved against Villa are Neco Williams and Curtis Jones, both of whom have joined their older colleagues in Qatar.
In midfield, Pedro Chirivella, Herbie Kane and Isaac Christie-Davies are expected to feature prominently, especially with Jones absent.
Harvey Elliott is perhaps the player supporters are most excited to see, with the 16-year-old looking a superb prospect since arriving from Fulham.
This is a great chance for him to showcase his talent once more, as he did in the games against MK Dons and Arsenal earlier in the competition.
Layton Stewart is the most likely option to start instead, but he also has potential fitness issues after going off at half-time in Liverpool U23s’ 1-1 draw with Chelsea on Saturday.
Villa are expected to ring the changes, too, considering Premier League survival takes precedence for Dean Smith’s men this season.
Potential Liverpool XI: Kelleher; Gallacher, Hoever, Van den Berg, Larouci; Chirivella, Kane, Christie-Davies; Elliott, Longstaff, Brewster
Last 5 Away to Aston Villa (All Competitions)
Won 2-1 – November 2019 (Trezeguet; Robertson, Mane)
Won 6-0 – February 2016 (Sturridge, Milner, Can, Origi, Clyne, Toure)
Won 2-0 – January 2015 (Borini, Lambert)
Won 1-0 – August 2013 (Sturridge)
Won 2-1 – March 2013 (Benteke; Henderson, Gerrard)
Away fans’ pub: Witton Arms
A piece of advice for visiting fans: Catch the train. The ground is less than a five-minute walk away, with the pub around the corner from the station.
Did You Know?
Liverpool have only lost at Villa once in the last 20 years, proving to be a hugely productive away day for Reds fans.
The last time they tasted defeat at Villa Park was in May 2011, when future Liverpool signing Stewart Downing scored the only goal.
Before that, they were beaten 2-1 in February 1998, with Michael Owen opening the scoring from the penalty spot, before Stan Collymore’s double turned the game on its head.
It means it’s just one loss in 20 visits for the Reds—let’s hope the youngsters continue this impressive record on Tuesday.
Aston Villa – Last five results (all competitions)
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Speaking in his press conference on Monday morning, Critchley urged his players to “play like a Liverpool team”:
“The group of players that will take to the pitch is one that I work with constantly, so it’s not like we’re throwing a team together.
“We’ll be well prepared, we’ve got enough time, we know how we’re going to approach the game, and it’s important that we go and play like a Liverpool team.
“So we can only control what we can control, what we can guarantee on the pitch tomorrow night.
“And the pressure from us will be is [that] we go and play like a Liverpool team, and that will be important to us.”
TV & Liveblog Info
Aston Villa vs. Liverpool is live on Sky Sports Main Event from 7.30pm (GMT), with kickoff at 7.45pm.
Chris Williams is on This Is Anfield live blog duty, keeping you company from 7pm.