Liverpool’s Carabao Cup penalty shootout triumph over Arsenal in midweek has given rise to quite a dilemma for the Reds.
Jurgen Klopp’s team are currently poised to play their quarter-final tie at Aston Villa on December 17th or 18th, with Liverpool already scheduled to play in the Club World Cup semi-finals on the latter date, as per The Mirror.
That has led to the EFL offering to move the Reds’ Carabao Cup game to the week beginning January 6th (as per Sky Sports), when the first legs of the semi-finals of that competition are due to take place, as there are no midweek slots outside of international breaks available before then.
According to The Mirror, Liverpool have discussed the bizarre possibility of keeping the original date for the Villa Park cup tie and playing two fixtures in two different competitions on the same day with separate line-ups.
Sky Sports claimed that Klopp has even threatened to withdraw his team from the Carabao Cup if their quarter-final cannot be rearranged.
While the situation may seem unenviable for Liverpool, it has not been a completely unforeseeable one for the club.
They knew that they would be due to compete in the Club World Cup in Qatar in December after winning last season’s Champions League, while the Carabao Cup quarter-finals have previously taken place in the same month.
Nor is this the first time that Liverpool have partaken in the FIFA competition just before Christmas. After winning the Champions League in 2005, they played in the Club World Cup in Japan the following season and went on to win the FA Cup.
Also, they had to play six qualifying matches just to get into the Champions League group stage that year, the first of which was played on July 13th. Klopp’s team didn’t play their first competitive fixture until August 4th this year – the Community Shield against Manchester City.
Go back to 2000/01 and Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool played 63 matches in all competitions as they went on to win the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup. Granted, there were no mid-season sojourns to the Middle East that time, but they negotiated the glut of fixtures expertly to lift three trophies.
More recently, Manchester City played 61 matches last season as they won the Premier League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup, along with the season-opening Community Shield. They also reached the Champions League quarter-finals and, rather than feeling drained as the campaign reached its climax, won their final 14 league matches to claim the title for a second successive year.
Drop three divisions and look at Newport County’s 2018/19 commitments. In addition to their 46 regular season League Two games, they played three more matches in the play-offs (losing the final), along with reaching the second round of the Carabao Cup and EFL Trophy as well as the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Mike Flynn’s team played 62 matches in total last term, with 11 of their players making 42 appearances for more (as per TransferMarkt). Admittedly they wouldn’t have the international commitments or European demands of Liverpool’s players, but that is still a huge ask for a fourth-tier club.
Success hasn’t been an abundant commodity at Anfield in recent times, either. Prior to June’s Champions League triumph, Liverpool had won only one trophy in 13 years. If the club wants to be successful and win trophies with more regularity, an expanded fixture calendar comes as part of the territory.
Manchester City have shown that it is eminently possible to garner plenty of silverware whilst negotiating a hectic fixture schedule. While the situation surrounding the Carabao Cup tie is undesirable, Liverpool must accept it as a by-product of their recent excellence under Klopp.
Liverpool fans, what’s your take on the team’s fixture situation following their Carabao Cup progression? Comment below with your views!Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!