It’s difficult to write about the League Cup under its new name without accidentally calling it the EDL Cup; a variation on the old format that would presumably see a limit on foreign players… Having reached the final of the competition last season, Jürgen Klopp confirmed that his players talked straight after the loss to Manchester City at Wembley and said that this season they would like to go one step further.
The EFL Cup is perhaps the blandest name of a competition that has previously been sponsored by Worthingtons, Coca-Cola and Carling, yet it reflects the competition’s origins of being open to teams in the English Football League. With West Ham going up against Chelsea, Manchester United welcoming their city rivals and us going head-to-head with Spurs it’s fair to say that the cup will open up quite nicely in the next round as some big guns go out. The only question is, can we make it to the quarter-finals?
Jürgen Klopp confirmed in his pre-match press conference that he will win the changes for this game. The manager announced that there is now a hierarchy for the goalkeepers and that Loris Karius is his number one. That means that Simon Mignolet is very much the number two and as such will be used in these sort of matches to give him game time and ensure he’s fresh, should he need to return to the first team in the future.
Klopp said that there were no major concerns in the wake of the win over West Brom, though a few of the ‘lads’ had picked up slight knocks. The reality is that he was almost certainly going to rotate his side anyway so it’s no great shakes for some of the changes to be forced upon him. My guess is that this will be a game that the German uses to get some game time for players that haven’t featured much, as well as an opportunity for him to have a look at some of the promising youth players.
The Under-23s played in the min-derby against Everton on Sunday and Trent Alexander-Arnold, Danny Ings, Ovie Ejaria and Kevin Stewart were all noticeable for their absence from the squad. Equally, it was perhaps telling of Mamadou Sakho’s future at the club that he played a full 90 minutes. A mix of the established and those who want to be considered for first team duties will be the order of the day against Spurs so here’s my predicted starting XI: Mignolet – Alexander-Arnold – Matip – Klavan – Moreno – Lucas – Stewart – Can – Grujic – Sturridge – Origi.
Mauricio Pochettino suggested earlier in the month that he would also consider resting people for this one. His team have hit a bit of a rough patch since beating Man City 2-0, however, so he may well second-guess himself on that front. Although Tottenham are still unbeaten in both domestic competitions, they have drawn their last three games and the Argentinian might well wonder what damage a defeat to a Premier League rival could do for his team’s fragile confidence.
He will be hoping that Toby Alderweireld can return to his centre-back slot after missing out on the weekend’s game with Bournemouth, though Eric Dier is capable of deputising if he isn’t. Kevin Wimmer has recently signed a new long-term deal with the club and will no doubt be hoping that he can push for a first-team slot if the squad is rotated. There could also be a surprise inclusion for Harry Kane on the substitute’s bench, with last season’s top-scorer having returned to full training in recent days after a lengthy absence.
Liverpool have still only lost one game in all competitions so far this season, being eight points better off in the league than they were from the corresponding fixtures last season. Although we’ve faced quite poor opposition in the EFL Cup so far, both Burton and Derby have been dispatched with ease and Klopp will no doubt have his sights set firmly on a march to the final once more. Other than Manchester United and Burnley, however, the only team to get something from us so far was Spurs, meaning our form could take a dip if they get their tactics right.
For Spurs it’s all about remaining unbeaten thus far. There season started with a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park and they’ve since notched up draws with us, West Brom, Bayern Leverkusen and Bournemouth. They’ve only lost once in all competitions and that was at their temporary Wembley home in the Champions League against Monaco in the middle of September. They’re hard to beat but they’re not exactly in the sort of form that terrifies opponents right now. That said, their 2-0 win over City at White Hart Lane was impressive and will be the blueprint Pochettino will use to face another high-pressing team – us.
Bearing all of that in mind, then, what way should you go with your betting? I’ll confess I got my calls all wrong for the West Brom game, though the stats suggested that I should have been right. I’m aiming to get back onto the right track now so here are my tips:
Coral: 40/1 For Liverpool To Win
Coral continues to try to bring in new customers with another stunning offer. This time they’re offering anyone who doesn’t already have an account with them the chance to get enhanced odds of 40/1 for Liverpool to win the game in normal time. I think this is going to be a tight match, but that’s a silly offer that you really should take advantage of if you can.
To make use of it you just need to join Coral, deposit at least £5 and place a real money bet of £1 as a win single on the Reds to win within 90 minutes. If it wins then you’ll get winnings paid into your account as cash at the real odds and then free bets to make it up to the enhanced odds. You’ll then have four days to spend the free bet tokens. Plus, just to make it even more appealing, if for some reason we don’t beat Spurs within the 90 minutes then you’ll get a £5 free bet token anyway!
A Tight Affair
The two sides have been cancelling each other out in their meetings of late, after Liverpool ruled the roost for a while. The last three times we’ve played Spurs the game has ended in a draw and I’m finding it difficult to envisage anything other than another tight game this time out. A lot of it will depend on how well the two squads react to being rotated and how seriously Tottenham take it. We saw how Borussia Dortmund tore them apart in the Europa League last season when they were concentrating on the league, after all. I’m just not sure whether Pochettino knows where he should be focussing his efforts.
If it is going to be a stalemate at the end of 90 minutes then the home advantage combined with the fitness that Klopp and his team is trying to instil in the Liverpool team means that you have to fancy us to do the job. For that reason the 10/1 available for Liverpool To Win In Extra-Time looks very appealing indeed to me. If you’d rather hedge your bets then you can always opt for the Either Team To Win In Extra-Time option that is 7/1.
Simon Mignolet will definitely return to the goalkeeper’s position for this game and how you think that will go will depend entirely on how much trust you’ve got in the Belgian. Personally I’ve got no trust in him whatsoever, so the 9/4 available for Both Teams To Score And Liverpool To Win makes sense. Mignolet’s inclusion combined with a likely rotation at the back leads me to believe that Spurs will have a better chance than some bookies are giving them credit for. That you can get 2/1 For Spurs To Qualify looks very long indeed to me, so you might want to stick a few quid on that just to make yourself feel better if it does happen.
Getting On The Scoresheet
I said a while ago that I thought Liverpool’s home match against Leicester City would be a tight affair. The game ended up having five goals in it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Football makes fools of us all. For that reason it would be remiss of me not to give you a heads up about who I think might get themselves on the scoresheet and how early it might happen. I say the latter bit because an early goal could see the ball flying into the net in this one and you can get 9/2 for Liverpool To Score In The First Ten Minutes
Given the fact that Daniel Sturridge still hasn’t scored for us this season and has been dropped to the bench in favour of Firmino, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start. Divock Origi needs game time as well, though, so Klopp might opt to start the two of them. That leaves no room in the starting XI for Danny Ings who has been scoring for fun in the Under-23s. For that reason I’m going to stick some money on Ings as Last Goal Scorer at 5/1. I’m also going to put my faith in Sturridge to end his goalscoring drought and will place a cheeky fiver on Sturridge As First Goal Scorer, which is 4/1.
I’ll be honest, this one feels really hard to call. Which team will be most up for the fight? Who will take it the most seriously? I’m going to put my neck on the line and say that Spurs are being under-estimated here and that 2/1 For Tottenham To Qualify is too long to be ignored. I’ve also been banging the Danny Ings drum for ages and Ings To Score Last @ 5/1 looks like a very decent bet to me. Now watch it end 0-0 and both teams get disqualified for being too boring…