With Pepijn Lijnders insisting Liverpool were “going to try with everything to reach Wembley,” there is a chance Jurgen Klopp names his strongest side against Arsenal.
The Reds are one game away from a League Cup final against Chelsea, but head to the Emirates on the back of a frustrating 0-0 draw in the first leg.
A 3-0 victory over Brentford at the weekend served as the perfect tonic, but Klopp’s options decreased further with an ankle injury for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
That, along with the absence of three key players at the Africa Cup of Nations and a host of other injuries, does limit the amount of changes possible ahead of the weekend’s trip to Crystal Palace.
But there is scope for the manager to name a strong lineup for the second leg.
Lijnders took media duties on Wednesday, and gave the following updates on the squad:
- Oxlade-Chamberlain ruled out, but ankle injury “not that bad”
- Elliott in full training though won’t be in squad vs. Arsenal
- Thiago and Origi out until after international break
- No new injuries but Matip and Jones missed training on Tuesday
Liverpool’s XI vs. Arsenal
There are two schools of thought when approaching this tie, as though the League Cup is arguably fourth on the club’s list of priorities, it is an opportunity to reach a cup final.
Lijnders told reporters that Liverpool would “try with everything to reach Wembley,” which suggests that Klopp could name close to a full-strength side on Thursday:
- Kelleher likely preferred to Alisson after sitting out first leg
- Konate and Tsimikas options to rotate and maintain strong defence
- Midfield of Fabinho, Henderson, Jones could remain unchanged
- Minamino the most realistic option to replace Oxlade-Chamberlain
With those changes, the Reds could line up as below:
Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Henderson, Jones; Jota, Minamino, Firmino
However, as Liverpool look to strike a balance for a midweek fixture, there is a chance of more rotation to reward those who have played the majority of the League Cup games so far:
- Williams and Gomez could join Konate and Tsimikas in defence
- Morton and Milner midfield options; Fabinho almost certain to start
- Gordon also available in attack to allow Jota to stay on left
This would see Liverpool take to the field like this:
Kelleher; Williams, Gomez, Konate, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Morton, Milner; Gordon, Jota, Firmino
It will be a tough decision for Klopp and his coaching staff to make, but it seems more likely that a strong side will be fielded in a bid to reach Wembley.
The call over whether or not to start Gordon could be the most interesting, though, with the balance of Liverpool’s attack in the first leg impacted by Jota being required on the right wing.