- Leicester City travel to face Liverpool in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday
- The third round tie is a 7:45pm kick-off at Anfield
- The Athletic's James Pearce assessed the Reds’ start to the season
- Jürgen Klopp’s side are unbeaten in the Premier League after six games
An overhaul of the squad left some question marks as to how the Merseysiders would shape up heading into 2023/24, but those questions have been duly answered following a blistering start to the season.
The in-form Reds have dropped just two points across the opening six Premier League matchdays, winning their last five and sitting second in the standings. A successful beginning to their UEFA Europa League group stage last Thursday only added to the good feeling around the club.
They meet the Foxes at Anfield in the third round of the competition this Wednesday evening (7:45pm kick-off).
Darwin Núñez's acrobatic finish contributed to a home victory over West Ham United last weekend.
“I think [the start has] probably been beyond most people’s expectations, considering it was a pretty turbulent summer with so many senior pros moving on,” Pearce began. “They were prepared for [James] Milner, [Alex] Oxlade-Chamberlain, [Naby] Keita and [Roberto] Firmino leaving at the end of their contracts.
“But to lose the captain Jordan Henderson and Fabinho, who had also been a big part of the club’s success was difficult - they had the battle to keep Mohammed Salah too. They also had the issues in the pursuit of a holding midfielder.
“There’s been a lot to admire. The new midfield of [Alexis] Mac Allister and [Dominik] Szoboszlai especially has been an absolute revelation since joining and given a real injection of energy, dynamism and positivity into that midfield.
“To have 16 points out of 18 in the league and a winning start in the Europa League, there’s some serious momentum building.”
If they are going to maintain a challenge on all fronts, he has to be willing to put his faith in some of those young players.James Pearce The Athletic
Providing an insight into Wednesday’s team news, Pearce anticipates a shake up from Jürgen Klopp as he balances several competitions. They have a squad capable of doing so, though, he believes.
The journalist explained: “I think there will be a lot of changes and we’ll see a much different line-up from the weekend win over West Ham. He’ll have one eye on what is a big Premier League clash away to Tottenham on Saturday evening. The way in which Liverpool responded to a dismal start in Austria against LASK will have fuelled his belief in the depth of the squad.
“He feels if they are going to maintain a challenge on all fronts, he has to be willing to put his faith in some of those young players and some of the more senior players who need minutes.
“You’d expect [Caoimhin] Kelleher to play in goal, you’ve got young players like [Stefan] Bajčetić and Ben Doak - this would be the perfect competition for them. Ryan Gravenberch arrived from Bayern Munich at the back end of the window and I expect him to get another start under his belt.
“[Wataru] Endō, who came in from Stuttgart and didn’t get a pre-season at Liverpool, is another who needs minutes. You look at the forward line and [Cody] Gakpo and [Diogo] Jota didn’t start at the weekend so this would look tailor made for them as well to come back into contention.”
Diogo Jota & Ryan Gravenberch
Two of the players Pearce expects to be involved on Wednesday.
It will be the Reds’ first involvement in this season’s Carabao Cup due to their European campaign, as the record nine-time winners look to progress in a competition they last claimed in 2022.
He added: “There’s no sense of this game getting in the way or being an unwanted distraction in any respect because the League Cup has been pretty good to Liverpool. They embrace it because Liverpool have had some great nights in the competition under Jürgen Klopp.
“Everyone has happy memories of the season before last when they went all the way and beat Chelsea in the final. If you have that success and glory, you want more of it. The last time Liverpool won this competition two years ago, it provided a real launch pad for them to go on and compete for an unprecedented quadruple.
“If you can get through those early rounds when the games are coming thick and fast, it’s a fantastic opportunity for youngsters to show what they can do and for players to stake a claim for more Premier League involvement.”
All times BST.
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