League Cup

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Looking ahead to unbeaten Liverpool’s Premier League slate

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Liverpool’s incredible season took a major step toward greatness Sunday with a 3-1 win over Manchester City at Anfield.

The Reds now boast an eight-point lead on the field after 12 matches, and lead Man City by nine points in a bid for its first league title of the Premier League era.

[ MORE: Premier League Club Power Rankings ]

Yes, the Reds totally blew a bigger, later lead last season, but it certainly feels different this time around (especially with Man City needing to navigate more time without Aymeric Laporte).

As we’ve previously noted, Liverpool is unbeaten despite rarely being in top form this season. Jurgen Klopp‘s men will get to their best but are unbeaten despite not finding that form; The system is that good, the talent that deep.

So, assuming that an invincible season isn’t heading to Anfield, when will Liverpool lose its first match?

Looking ahead, if the Reds can manage the unpredictable nature of a Merseyside Derby on Dec. 4, it seems possible if not likely that the Reds will be unbeaten in the Premier League through Boxing Day.

How much longer after that, however, is a tall ask. The Reds’ five-match waltz after the international break is followed by a trip to Qatar which will, presuming an appearance in the Dec. 22 final, see them have three days to adjust to their home time zone and a visit to Leicester.

If the Reds manage to get a result there, they’ll face Wolves twice, Spurs once, and Man United once before the end of January. Then, and only then, might it be worth entertaining an unbeaten season.

Liverpool upcoming schedule (PL matches in italics)

#West Ham fixture still to be rescheduled
*denotes match that depends on previous round

Nov. 23 – at Palace
Nov. 27 – v. Napoli (UCL)
Nov. 30 – v. Brighton
Dec. 4 – v. Everton
Dec. 7 – at Bournemouth
Dec. 10 – at Red Bull Salzburg (UCL)
Dec. 14 – v. Watford
Dec. 17 – at Aston Villa (League Cup)
Dec. 18 –  v. Monterrey, Al-Sadd, or Hienghene Sport (CWC)
Dec. 22 – Club World Cup Final
Dec. 26 – at Leicester City
Dec. 29 – v. Wolves
Jan. 2 – v. Sheffield United
Jan. 4 or 5 – FA Cup third round
Jan. 7 or 8 – League Cup semi first leg*
Jan. 11 – at Spurs
Jan. 19 – v. Manchester United
Jan. 23 – at Wolves
Jan. 25 or 26 – FA Cup fourth round*
Jan. 28 or 29 – League Cup semi second leg*

How will Liverpool split up squad for two games in 24 hours?

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It has been confirmed Liverpool will play two games in two continents in less than 24 hours.

How is Jurgen Klopp going to do this?

Liverpool will play at Aston Villa in the quarterfinal of the League Cup on Dec. 17, with a separate squad flying out to Doha, Qatar to play in the FIFA Club World Cup semifinal on Dec. 18 and then the final or third-place match on Dec. 21.

The Liverpool boss refused to give specific details about how the squads will be made up and how the logistical plans will work.

“We don’t know exactly yet [how the logistics will work],” Klopp said. “We have an idea how we’ll do it but it’s too early to speak about that. We had to make a decision now and we made the decision because all the other alternatives were more problems than solutions. And that didn’t work out. So we said, OK, that’s how we can do it as good as possible for us. All the rest, we now have a bit of time to think about that.”

It is likely a young Liverpool side will remain in the UK and play against Aston Villa, with the more experienced players from that team flying out to Qatar right after the game and they can then be subs at least for the final or third-place game on Dec. 21 and maybe even the game on Dec. 18.

This is far from ideal, but it would appear that Klopp and Liverpool are prioritizing the Club World Cup competition.

Below is a look at the two possible starting lineups for the games which take place within 24 hours of one another, but close to 3,500 miles apart…

Starting XI for League Cup quarterfinal v. Aston Villa – December 17

—- Kelleher —

— Williams — Gomez — Van den Berg — Milner —

— Oxlade-Chamberlain — Lallana — Keita —

— Elliott — Origi — Brewster —

Starting XI for Club World Cup semifinal v. TBD – December 18

—- Alisson —-

— Alexander-Arnold — Lovren — Van Dijk —- Robertson —

—- Henderson — Fabinho — Wijnaldum —

— Salah — Firmino — Mane —

Liverpool to split squad; League Cup quarter v. Villa to go ahead

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Liverpool’s League Cup quarterfinal at Aston Villa will go ahead as planned on Dec. 17.

That is despite Liverpool playing in the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar on Dec. 18 and Dec. 21 due to winning the UEFA Champions League.

The Premier League leaders released the following statement saying they will send one squad to Qatar and leave one squad of players to play against Villa in the League Cup.

“As a result, we will be utilising two playing squads simultaneously, with one squad participating in the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar and another in the Carabao Cup. The club would like to take this opportunity to underline that while this is not an ideal scenario, it is an outcome which was arrived at with the best interests of the competition, our fellow clubs and ourselves as the sole motivating factor.

“We would like to thank the EFL for their efforts to accommodate us and we can confirm alternative dates were discussed, but ultimately none were considered suitable without compromising the scheduling of the competition itself or placing an undue strain on our playing staff.”

This bizarre scenario has come from one thing: Liverpool being so successful.

It is likely Liverpool will leave a young squad in the UK to play against Villa, and their ‘A squad’ will travel to Qatar to challenge for the Club World Cup against the best team from each continent.

As they say, this is far from ideal but it’s all they could do without pulling out of the competition.

Klopp: Liverpool may exit League Cup over fixture pile-up

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Jurgen Klopp was happy after seeing his Liverpool youngsters beat Arsenal on penalty kicks (after a wild 5-5 draw) at Anfield in the League Cup on Wednesday, but his focus then switched to how on earth they’re going to play the quarterfinal in December.

Liverpool were drawn to play away at Aston Villa during the week commencing Dec. 16 but the problem is that after winning the UEFA Champions League they will now play in the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar during the same week.

Speaking after the dramatic penalty kick win against Arsenal, Klopp was adamant that Liverpool will simply drop out of the competition if the English Football League cannot find a date to play the game which suits his team.

“If they don’t find a place for us, an appropriate place, not 3pm on Christmas Day or something, then we don’t play. They have to make it. You have to think about these things – if you have a fixture list, where one team cannot be part of all the games, then you have to think about it,” Klopp said. “Hopefully it starts now. I think it’s fair that this problem is obvious now. We will not be the victim of this problem. We played tonight, we want to win it, if they don’t find a proper date for us, we cannot play the next round and whoever our opponent is will go through, or Arsenal.”

Liverpool cannot be in two places at once and given the fact they play in the UCL group stage, that complicates things further. Between now and January they are playing twice a week, with midweek PL games, the UCL, the Club World Cup and now the League Cup.

It’s likely the Premier League will have to move one of Liverpool’s games to accommodate the League Cup, as the two-legged League Cup semifinals are scheduled to be played on the weeks commencing Jan. 6 and Jan. 27.

This will take some serious creativity from all involved to find a date when Liverpool could play their quarterfinal. Right now, moving their game against Watford to Friday, December 13 and then playing Aston Villa on Monday, Dec. 16 is probably their best option, but then Liverpool would have to fly straight out to Qatar and play on Dec. 18.

That seems like the most logical way to wedge this game in, as there’s no way it can be played any later due to the busy festive period, and then the FA Cup starting up in early January.

Not an ideal situation at all for the Reds, who do not want to be punished for simply being successful.

League Cup quarterfinal draw: Big boys kept apart

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The League Cup quarterfinal draw has been made and the big boys have avoided each other.

[ MORE: Klopp enjoyed Liverpool win ]

Reigning champs Manchester City travel to third tier Oxford United, while Manchester United host fourth-tier Colchester United as both Manchester clubs will fancy their chances of reaching the semifinals.

Two all-Premier League ties see Liverpool travelling to Aston Villa, while Everton host Leicester City to round off the draw.

Below is the draw in full, with the games to be played the week commencing Dec. 16, although Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool will not be available to play Villa then as they’re taking part in the Club World Cup in Qatar.

League Cup quarterfinal draw

Oxford United v. Manchester City
Manchester United v. Colchester United
Aston Villa v. Liverpool
Everton v. Leicester City