Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 13/20
The Carabao Cup is well underway in England, and in the third round, Norwich City will welcome Liverpool to Carrow Road on Tuesday evening.
These two teams have already met at the same venue in the opening round of the Premier League campaign. The Merseysiders won that day by 0-3, courtesy of goals from Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
Following that defeat to Liverpool, Norwich were thrashed 5-0 away to Manchester City, before achieving their only win of the season so far – a 6-0 win over Bournemouth in the second round of the Carabao Cup. Their Premier League woes quickly continued afterwards as they suffered defeats at home against Leicester City 1-2, 1-0 away to Arsenal, and 1-3 at home against Watford a few days ago.
Emmanuel Bonaventure opened the scoring for the hornets with just over 16 minutes gone, and though Teemu Pukki set the score back level in the 35th, Watford winger Ismaila Sarr produced a superb second-half performance and scored twice.
Naturally, such a run, without a single point to their name after five rounds, has left them lying at the bottom of the table, and it seems the Canaries are destined for a desperate struggle for survival for the remainder of the season.
Manager Daniel Farke would probably like to rotate his team for a cup fixture at this point, but he won’t be making too many changes if he wishes to avoid another thrashing. Midfielder Jakob Sorensen could return from a dead leg, and the same goes for 19-year-old right-back Bali Mumba (dislocated knee) who started in the Bournemouth win and could give Max Aarons a chance to rest for the weekend.
Attacking midfielder Pierre Lees-Melou made the bench against Watford having recovered from a bout of flu, and he seems likely to start against Liverpool.
Right-back Sam Byram (thigh), centre-back Christoph Zimmermann (knee) and winger Przemysław Płacheta (COVID-19) remain unavailable.
Many wrote Liverpool off from the title race in the Premier League before the season had even started, mostly due to an apparent lack of spending in the transfer market, but the Merseysiders have so far silenced their doubters. They followed the win over Norwich with another one at home against Burnley (2-0), a 1-1 draw at home against Chelsea, a 0-3 win away to Leeds United, a highly exciting Champions League triumph over AC Milan at Anfield, and eventually, a 3-0 win at home over Crystal Palace.
Sadio Mane became the first-ever player in the Premier League to score in nine consecutive fixtures against one opponent as he broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute, Mohamed Salah added the second in the 78th, and Naby Keita whacked a superb volley to set the final score in the 89th.
Jurgen Klopp’s team share the top spot with a record identical to that of Chelsea, with 13 points, 12 goals scored and just one conceded. Manchester United are close behind, also on 13 points but with a slightly lesser goal-difference.
Liverpool last won this competition in 2012 under Kenny Dalglish. They came close in Klopp’s first season in charge, but lost the final to Manchester City on penalties. Since then, they haven’t exactly put too much emphasis on it as they strode to Champions League and Premier League glory, and it remains to be seen if that has changed at all.
Speaking to the press ahead of the match, Klopp’s assistant Pep Lijnders confirmed a couple of names as starters. Caoimhin Kelleher will replace Alisson Becker in goal, and Curtis Jones is expected to start in midfield. Joe Gomez is expected to make the cut too, possibly on the right defensive flank with Nathaniel Phillips hoping for a centre-back spot alongside Ibrahima Konate. Trent Alexander-Arnold missed the Crystal Palace match through illness and still isn’t ready to return.
Midfielder Thiago Alcantara suffered an ankle problem on Saturday and forward Roberto Firmino hasn’t recovered from a hamstring issue he picked up against Chelsea. Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will all be pushing for a start upfront.
Even with a heavily rotated lineup, Liverpool are still favourites to win. The players selected to start will be strongly motivated to put in a good performance and stake their claims on roles in upcoming league matches, and Klopp will certainly need them to do so.
Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 13/20
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