Liverpool kick start their Carabao Cup campaign away at Sky Bet League One side MK Dons as they look to add another cup to their ever-growing trophy cabinet.
The hosts are currently sitting comfortably in mid table in league one, winning four and losing five of their opening nine league games. They are in a poor run of form, however, losing their last two league games having won their previous two.
Liverpool returned to winning ways on Sunday, grinding out a very important win against Chelsea. Even though they were not at their best, goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino were enough to see the Reds gain three valuable points.
This will be the first ever meeting between the two sides.
MK Dons have a decent start to their League 1 campaign. They sit in 15th place, six clear of the relegation zone, having won four of their opening nine games including against rivals AFC Wimbledon.
Despite winning four, they don’t usually keep clean sheets. So far they have managed only two in the league, conceding a total of 13 goals and showing their defence can be leaky at times.
Their progression in the League Cup as saw them face AFC Wimbledon and Southend United. Like in the league they were victorious over their rivals, progressing in a penalty shootout after the game finished 2-2. Southend United were easily beaten 4-1, but the match was quite even, with the Shrimpers registering over 20 shots on goal, 11 on target.
Liverpool extended their 100% start to the League, after a controversial 2-0 defeat to Napoli. The Reds bounced back well against tough opposition to secure their sixth win this season, extending their overall winning run in the league to 15.
Both of Liverpool’s goals came from dead ball situations. Trent Alexander-Arnold channelled his inner Steven Gerrard to find the top corner after Mohamed Salah’s lay off, while Roberto Firmino continued his excellent season by nodding in from an Andy Robertson cross, moments after Chelsea had a equaliser disallowed after a VAR review.
N’Golo Kanté’s late strike gave the home team hope of salvaging a point, but Liverpool know how to dig in and take their time in possession to seal the three points. It was no different on Sunday as Jürgen Klopp’s side came away with an important win.
The majority of MK Dons’ players will be unknown to many Liverpool fans, including myself. After a bit of research it’s clear to see they do have the quality to make the game difficult for what is likely to be an inexperienced Reds side.
Midfielder Alex Gilby was crowned as League Two Player of the Year last season, proving he can be an influential presence in the middle of the pitch. Conor McGrandles’ performances earned him the Young Player of the Year award, showing they have plenty of talent in the middle of the park.
Kieran Agard was their go-to man for goals last season, scoring 22. He has only 1 in 11 games so far this season, however, indicating his level might be in the lower division.
Klopp is expected to name a host of young players as he looks to youth a chance to break their way into his plans. Goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, who started his football career no more than 20km from where I’m currently writing this, is likely to make his first senior appearance in a Liverpool shirt, one I personally am very much looking forward to.
Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez could form the centre back partnership, with Ki-Jana Hoever and James Milner expected to complete the back line. Yasser Larouci could be called upon at left-back if Klopp prefers to have Milner in midfield.
Adam Lallana will likely be given his first chance as a No.6. I think it will be a double pivot with Naby Keïta sitting next to him after returning to injury. Xherdan Shaqiri didn’t train so Curtis Jones could start wide left, while it could be a Liverpool debut for 16-year-old Harvey Elliott, signed in the summer from Fulham.
Completing the starting XI will almost certainly be Rhian Brewster. He is rated very highly by the coaching staff and a good showing here could earn him more first-team minutes in the coming weeks.
Liverpool have failed to get past the third round of the League Cup in consecutive seasons, having at least reach the semi-finals in each of the previous two seasons. Both times we were knocked out early it was against Premier League opposition.
The League Cup isn’t everyone’s cup of tea with most fans preferring if we were knocked out early, but progress through the competition will give the young players more of a chance to grow and prove themselves, something which isn’t likely when we are involved in a title challenge.
I believe the youngsters will give themselves another chance of playing. The mix of experience, youth and quality should be too much for MK Dons.
Predicted final score: MK Dons 1-4 Liverpool