We’ve got a repeat of the opening Premier League fixture on Wednesday night with the return of the mighty Liverpool to Carrow Road in the Carabao Cup third round.
I’ve discovered via another chat with the excellent Tony Evans, who is a columnist for The Independent, a former Football Editor of The Times, a contributor to talkSPORT and Five Live and is heavily involved with Reds website The Anfield Wrap, that there might be a few famous faces missing when the Reds arrive in Norfolk.
I know we won’t be putting out our first choice line-up either but Tony and I agreed that wouldn’t take anything away from what should be a great encounter.
I began by mentioning to Tony that under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool have never progressed beyond a domestic Cup quarter-final of any description. So how will Jurgen deal with this one?
Klopp has something of a duty, really, to protect the core of the senior team. We didn’t bring in many players during the window but we have so many great young guys coming through who want the thrill of playing for the Liverpool first team and I’d expect them to take their chance when it comes along. These lads are desperate to get an opportunity!
So will you be basically be fielding an under-23 outfit then?
Not quite but I don’t reckon too many first-team regulars will be involved on Wednesday. We will look at the league table and I’m sure you’ll do the same and consider to what degree the competition is dispensable to both of us. But… when it comes to the quarter-finals it gets interesting for all of us who get there. Two games from a great day out at Wembley for all the supporters – then I think Jurgen would become very interested and play stronger teams and I’m sure Daniel Farke at Norwich would too.
Klopp’s like what I would call a typical foreign manager if there is such a thing in that while the Carabao isn’t a priority he won’t turn down the chance to have a proper crack at it in the later stages if we’re there or thereabouts.
So the attitude of teams at the top and bottom ends of the PL towards Cup competition really has changed then?
Definitely. The whole landscape has changed. There could be a couple of clubs traditionally in the middle reaches who might give it a serious go from the start [I suggested West Ham and Everton, Tony didn’t disagree – Martin] but we’ll see how it all turns out.
And speaking of the Toffees…
I’m not being in any way patronising but it would be a great thing for the club and its supporters to get to Wembley, bring back some memories and maybe something silver to put in the boardroom. Every team wants that of course but those who are unlikely to reach the Champions League or Europa League and equally won’t be concerned about relegation might well give it a right good go.
Any of your youngsters we should particularly look out for on the night?
Yeah – mainly the ones you’ve already heard of like Curtis Jones, Neco Williams, Ben Woodburn, plus a really good young player in Layton Stewart. The type of player that is far too good for the under-23s but haven’t really established themselves in the first team squad yet. The academy is going great at the moment.
Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones look pretty good to me already!
Yep! Obviously, we won’t be seeing Elliott for quite a while after that dreadful ankle injury against Leeds last weekend and we all wish him a safe and speedy recovery [Amen to that – Martin].
I’ve noticed that a couple of your fansites are full of praise for Ozan Kabak. What is your take on him?
He was virtually an emergency loan when Van Dijk, Matip and Gomez were injured but he did really well although his partnership with Ben Davies wasn’t the best. He showed there was quite a bit about him and he’s certainly got the ability to learn. He’s got the right attitude and I’d say he’s well worth a punt.
I see you’ve vastly reduced your prices for the travelling contingent for this match and so have we – we’re doing kids for a quid, concessions for a tenner and £15 for the rest of us?
Very few Liverpool games struggle to sell out home or away. This one’s a night match with two *weakened* teams so add in the economic situation generally and it makes perfect sense from all sides. It’s on TV too of course but it gives an opportunity to those who don’t always get to go for both sets of supporters so I can’t criticise that [neither can I – Martin]. It’s a horrible journey for our supporters but I’m sure they’ll be there in full effect.
I’m unlikely to be going myself but I might change my mind at the last minute. How about you?
No – I’m working at QPR v Everton that night! It’s a shame because Norwich is a great venue and I’d like to enjoy a few beers with my mates and have a great day out. One day soon when I’m not working I hope.
Preview over, we concluded with a chat about what both Liverpool and ourselves do in terms of our local communities and Tony made an interesting observation.
Yes, we’ve both got pedigree as community clubs and it’s pleasing to hear about your Community Sports Foundation. I think along with many clubs Liverpool and yourselves let the principle drift for a while a few years ago but it’s great that we’re back on track.
As always many thanks to Tony E for a great chat and some much-appreciated insight.