Our writers have named their XIs for Thursday’s Carabao Cup showdown at the Etihad Stadium.
Paul Gorst – World Cup stars get a rest
It will be interesting to see just how strong Jurgen Klopp goes for this one. Only Ibrahima Konate is technically unavailable following the World Cup, but it’s still likely that Liverpool’s Brazilian and English contingent won’t be involved.
That means Alisson Becker, Fabinho, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Jordan Henderson will be given the night off alongside Virgil van Dijk.
In goal, Caoimhin Kelleher will continue to deputize with distinction, and I suspect James Milner will line up at right-back alongside Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, and Andy Robertson.
In midfield, this might be an ideal chance for Stefan Bajcetic to start at the base alongside Harvey Elliott and Thiago Alcantara. Up top, I see no harm in naming Mohamed Salah from the start alongside Roberto Firmino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Darwin Nunez can wait in reserve. It’s a strong team but victory will open up the field in this competition.
My team (4-3-3): Kelleher; Milner, Gomez, Matip, Robertson; Bajcetic, Elliott, Thiago; Salah, Firmino, Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Ian Doyle – Nunez gets the nod
The World Cup was okay, but in reality merely a warm-up for the greatest of all competitions – the Carabao Cup.
Liverpool return to action at Manchester City tonight in their fourth round tie and there’s plenty with which Jurgen Klopp has to contend when picking his team.
And that’s even without turning to the majority of the Reds’ representatives in Qatar, who surely won’t be featuring.
In goal, it’s the Carabao Cup man himself, Caoimhin Kelleher. Left-back can be Andy Robertson, and given how well he did in the meeting between the sides in October, James Milner can be right-back. At the heart of defence it’s the returning Joel Matip alongside Joe Gomez.
Midfield, as ever, is the tricky one. Stefan Bajcetic has been bigged up to such an extent he surely must be starting, while Thiago Alcantara can have a first-ever outing in the competition. Harvey Elliott completes the engine room.
And up top, it’s a strong one with Mohamed Salah right, Roberto Firmino central and Darwin Nunez down the left.
Keider MacDonald – Trent and Nunez come back in
Well, it’s fair to say that both Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola find themselves in pretty unprecedented territory as they prepare their sides for tonight’s League Cup clash at the Etihad.
After the World Cup finals in Qatar finished just four days ago, both managers will be without a number of their star players for the fourth round tie as both clubs had representatives in the latter stages of the competition and Sunday’s showpiece final.
While the back five the Reds boss is set to name is almost nailed on given that Caoimhin Kelleher, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Andy Robertson have all spent the last two weeks training with one another in both Dubai and back at the AXA Centre, I would be open to making one change.
Although Trent Alexander-Arnold only officially returned to club duty on Monday morning, after playing just 33 minutes at the World Cup, I would be tempted to throw the right-back straight back into action ahead of Calvin Ramsay.
Liverpool will need Alexander-Arnold in full swing ahead of their return to Premier League action on Monday, which means a first start for the 23-year-old since early November. Opportunities beckon for Ramsay in the upcoming FA Cup tie against Wolves.
In midfield, it’s more of the same from the Reds as Harvey Elliott and Stefan Bajcetic will be handed the opportunity to impress alongside Thiago Alcantara again, this time at the home of the reigning Premier League champions.
While options in attack are restricted due to the injuries both Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota have, Darwin Nunez has to be brought straight into the fold after his bright showing against AC Milan. Meanwhile, after six weeks without a competitive kick of a football, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino are freed from their shackles against the familiar foe.
My team (4-3-3): Kelleher, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Matip, Robertson; Bajcetic, Elliott, Thiago; Salah, Firmino, Nunez.