Lincoln boss Michael Appleton believes he knows what to expect from Liverpool, and has urged his players to take an “aggressive” stance that could concern Jurgen Klopp.
When Premier League sides come up against lower-league opposition in the domestic cups, there is often a sense of the latter looking to make an impression.
This can manifest itself in an overly physical approach, with managers heading into these ties hoping to avoid injury caused by a particularly enthusiastic challenge.
That is not to suggest that Appleton will send his players into tonight’s League Cup third-round clash looking to hurt their Liverpool counterparts, but he will tell them to “give them something to think about.”
“It’s one of them, if it was a horse race god knows our odds. 100-1? Maybe 1000-1,” he told the Telegraph.
“But we go into the game with belief. And not being passive.
“I see these games where teams go in with a good shape, but not really working the ball. I’ve spoken to the players about being aggressive.
“Don’t just watch them play. Give them something to think about.”
In his pre-match press conference, Pepijn Lijnders was full of praise for Lincoln and their setup under Appleton—in particular, their ability on the counter-attack.
“We are going to play against a side who will defend deep, who is ready to counter-attack, has real speed on the wings and real technical players on the inside, but set up for a good counter-attacking game,” he explaind.
“They’ve scored five already this season from counter-attacks, and at the same time, when they play they really play.”
The hope is that Appleton simply means that he wants his players to not shrink at the prospect of facing the likes of James Milner, Xherdan Shaqiri and Takumi Minamino, but instead continue to play their game.
As he continued, the Lincoln manager outlined what he expects from Klopp, revealing one area that the German could spring a surprise—his formation.
“I’ve looked at teams he put out last year [in cup competitions]. I know they have players who need minutes, I know he’ll want to try out a couple of new signings,” he said.
“But whatever the XI, the way they play and the way they set up are always the same. It’ll be 4-3-3 and there are certain areas of pitch where the front players like to pick up the ball.
“We have to be aware enough to make sure we get there first.”
Liverpool deployed a 4-2-3-1 in their final pre-season friendly of the summer against another League One side, Blackpool, and it could be given the desire to rest his key midfielders, Klopp could use the same system at Sincil Bank.
However the Reds take to the field, though, they will be reminded to show respect to their opponent, as if Appleton’s words are anything to go by, Lincoln will be up for the challenge.