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10 key things to know ahead of Liverpool vs. Leicester

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Liverpool host Leicester in a League Cup quarter-final clash on Wednesday evening, with plenty of changes expected for the Reds.

Jurgen Klopp‘s men drew 2-2 at Tottenham on Sunday, in arguably the most entertaining – and also controversial – game of the season so far.

Attention briefly turns to League Cup action, however, as Liverpool take on former Anfield boss Brendan Rodgers and his Foxes side.

Here are 10 things to know ahead of the match.

 

1. Leicester of out of sorts

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 13, 2021: Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara (R) and Leicester City's Harvey Barnes during the FA Premier League match between Leicester City FC and Liverpool FC at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by Propaganda)

Leicester may be the reigning FA Cup holders, but they are going through a rough patch at the moment.

The Foxes have been hit by injuries to key men throughout the season – the likes of Jonny Evans, Youri Tielemans and Harvey Barnes have all been out, among others – and they sit ninth in the Premier League.

Having started the season as possible top-four challengers, a European finish looks like it could be a challenge, with so many strong teams in front of them.

Leicester have only won one of their last four matches in all competitions, and the impact of COVID means they haven’t played since December 12.

 

2. Rodgers’ third-season struggles?

Brendan Rodgers, Leicester ((Mike Egerton/PA))

Despite so nearly guiding Liverpool to Premier League glory in 2013/14, Rodgers will always be a divisive figure among Reds supporters.

His detractors will often use his disastrous third and final season as a stick to beat him with and there are signs of similar happening at Leicester.

From being one of the country’s most vibrant attacking teams, the Foxes don’t look the same force and Rodgers’ reputation as a defensively suspect manager have come under the spotlight again.

Twenty-seven league goals conceded in just 16 matches speaks for itself.

 

3. Leicester’s COVID secrecy

Last week, Jurgen Klopp questioned why some clubs have not been transparent about their covid cases, and no club has been less transparent than Leicester.

They’ve had their last two games postponed but never confirmed even the amount of players or staff who have tested positive.

Reports have suggested Jannik Vestergaard, Ayoze Perez, Ademola Lookman, Kelechi Iheanacho, Filip Benkovic, Hamza Choudhury and Vontae Daley-Campbell are among those to have tested positive but we have no idea of when or if they are out of quarantine.

Furthermore, Rodgers hasn’t even had a pre-match press conference.

What we do know is that Wilfred Ndidi could return for the visitors, but Evans, Caglar Soyuncu, James Justin, Wesley Fofana, Nampalys Mendy and Ricardo Pereira are all injured.

 

4. Possible Reds starting XI

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 19, 2021: Liverpool's Tyler Morton during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

COVID continues to wreak havoc, with Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Thiago and Curtis Jones all still in isolation.

While the first three could theoretically be available for the league trip to Leicester on December 28, Thiago won’t be back until the Chelsea game on January 2 at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Nat Phillips, Harvey Elliott and Divock Origi remain sidelined through injury.

On the plus side, Jordan Henderson is back after missing the Spurs game through illness, but Andy Robertson is serving the first of his three-match ban.

Given the absentees and relentless nature of Liverpool’s schedule, a second-string team is to be expected on Wednesday night.

That’s not to say a strong side won’t be fielded, though, especially with a place in the semi-finals up for grabs.

Joe Gomez will surely be given a rare opportunity in defence, with youngster Jarell Quansah in contention to make his debut alongside him.

With Robertson out, Owen Beck could come in at left-back, in order to keep Kostas Tsimikas fresh ahead of the Leeds game.

Tyler Morton may be given another chance in midfield, potentially alongside Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner, with Roberto Firmino starting in attack to get minutes under his belt.

Possible Liverpool XI: Kelleher; Williams, Quansah, Beck; Morton, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Milner; Gordon, Minamino, Firmino.

 

5. League Cup royalty

Liverpool, League Cup/ Worthington Cup Final winners, 2001 (Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport)

Liverpool have won eight League Cups in their history, meaning they have the joint-most alongside Man City, who have dominated the competition of late.

Back in the 1980s, the Reds lifted the trophy four times in a row – 1980/81, 1981/82, 1982/83, 1983/84 – before an 11-wait for the next one to arrive.

That came in 1995, when a Steve McManamann-inspired performance saw Liverpool beat Bolton 2-1, with the former midfielder scoring twice.

The next League Cup title arrived in 2001 during the memorable cup treble-winning season and success was also tasted in 2003 and 2012.

A first League Cup in ten years early next year may not be top of Klopp’s priorities, but it would be an added bonus.

 

6. Lijnders on good form

Pep Lijnders was on his usual League Cup media duties on Tuesday and he gave some honest and insightful thoughts on the use of VAR:

“I think VAR is a good thing in football because it can help make the big decisions right. Everybody makes mistakes. I make mistakes. If we make big mistakes, Jurgen and myself, we get punished.

“If players make big mistakes they get punished, but if referees make big mistakes, usually the teams or the players get punished as well.

“That’s not correct. I’m not talking about the small mistakes in the game because that’s football, it goes so quick.

“But the VAR is there to help the referee and what I still don’t understand is why the VAR is a [different] person, why the VAR is not part of a team.

“They are split seconds and the guy who helps the referee on the pitch needs to know the referee with everything he has.

“They need to be a team because together they are responsible. If there are always changes, that will not work.”

Future Liverpool manager, anyone?

 

7. “We will not rush them back”

Lijnders also discussed Liverpool’s COVID-hit quartet of Van Dijk, Fabinho, Thiago and Jones, explaining how they will be patient with their returns:

“We will not rush them back, we will take our time.

“This virus is really unpredictable, so we have to look at it case by case and player by player. Health comes first so we have to make sure we don’t rush it, that they come back whenever they are ready.

“People underestimate when it’s 10 days’ quarantine, they think they can play immediately on day 11, but football doesn’t work like this. You need training.

“Because it’s a team sport you need to again get the feeling of the game. What’s most important is that they are healthy, that they stay safe and that we give them time.”

With such a measured approach, it could be argued that it’s no coincidence that Liverpool’s games have kept going ahead compared to others.

 

8. Did You Know?

PRESTON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, October 27, 2021: Liverpool's Takumi Minamino celebrates after scoring the first goal during the English Football League Cup 4th Round match between Preston North End FC and Liverpool FC at Deepdale. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool haven’t reached the League Cup semi-finals since Klopp’s first full season in charge, having lost to Man City in the final in 2015/16.

It was Southampton who saw off the Reds with 1-0 wins in either leg of the last-four meeting in January 2017.

In the two years after that, Liverpool exited the competition at the third round stage after defeats to Leicester and Chelsea.

Aston Villa (quarter-finals) knocked out the Reds’ youngest-ever starting lineup in 2019/20, due to a clash with the Club World Cup, while Arsenal (fourth round) prevailed on penalties at Anfield last season.

 

9. Paul Tierney NOT in charge!

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 23, 2015: Liverpool's Divock Origi is shown a yellow card by referee Andrew Madley against Carlisle United during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After a truly shocking performance against Spurs, Klopp and every Liverpool fan will be relieved to hear Paul Tierney will be nowhere near Anfield.

Instead, Andrew Madley will take charge of Wednesday’s action, as he looks to avoid the wrath of the Reds manager.

The 38-year-old has refereed one Liverpool game so far this season, overseeing the 3-0 win at home to Crystal Palace in September.

Madley has only officiated two more Reds games before – the FA Cup win over Shrewsbury in 2019/20 and a penalty shootout triumph against Carlisle in the League Cup in 2015/16.

 

10. Follow on our live blog

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 11, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Wednesday’s game is not live on UK television, with Spurs’ home clash with West Ham on Sky Sports instead.

The best place to follow the action is TIA’s matchday live blog, with minute-by-minute updates provided throughout the night.

Henry Jackson is in charge from 7pm – come and keep him company and make sure he isn’t just speaking to himself!

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