After five-and-a-half weeks away, including a training camp in Dubai and friendlies against Lyon and AC Milan, the Reds are back in competitive action.
The biggest possible fixture from the teams remaining, it stands it be another must-watch meeting between English football’s two best sides, under the two best managers.
But predicting Liverpool’s lineup for their return from the World Cup break is a challenge.
Who’s in and who’s back?
Assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders took media duties on Wednesday and revealed the following:
- Curtis Jones nearing return; no new injuries mentioned
- Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz remain long-term absentees
- No decision made yet on returning World Cup players
Liverpool’s XI vs. Man City
Now, this is a tough one, as typically a Carabao Cup fourth-round tie would see Klopp keep his faith in youth and those with fewer opportunities.
But the timing of the game, as the first back after the World Cup break, and the calibre of the opposition, suggests a different approach may be taken.
In his pre-match press conference, Lijnders insisted that the door would remain open to the club’s youngsters, however, with a balance likely to be struck between youth and experience.
Here is perhaps the most realistic setup:
- Caoimhin Kelleher to start in goal as cup keeper
- Joe Gomez and Joel Matip flanked by James Milner and Andy Robertson
- Stefan Bajcetic entrusted as No. 6 alongside Harvey Elliott and Thiago
- Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Roberto Firmino start up front
That would see Liverpool shape up like this:
Kelleher; Milner, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Bajcetic, Elliott, Thiago; Salah, Nunez, Firmino
With the majority of those now in training, it could be an even stronger Liverpool lineup at the Etihad:
- Alisson preferred to Kelleher after Brazil’s knockout
- Trent Alexander-Arnold given first start in five-and-a-half weeks
- Fabinho to join Elliott and Thiago in midfield
- Salah, Nunez and Firmino retained as front three
Those alterations would see this XI:
The focus, however, will be on securing victory over the Reds’ modern rivals, and a spot in the quarter-finals.