Matthew Sinton discusses Liverpool’s last eight meeting with Leeds United tomorrow.
With the competition at the top of the Premier League table getting fiercer every week, we can, of course, afford nothing but a full strength starting XI each match day. Tomorrow, we take a break from the most important competition and host Leeds United in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup.
The average person might think a cup quarter final would always require a first choice team, but I wouldn’t be so sure. In no way am I trying to disrespect Leeds here – half of my family are Leeds fans, in fact – but they are the worst team we could have drawn from the seven that remain in the competition.
I don’t think there’s any bad blood between the two sides. You could say our fans’ mutual hatred for Manchester United actually brings us together in a way. It’s not just us in the stands that feel that connection, though. Our very own James Milner began his career at Leeds. Being the excellent professional he is, I’m certain it won’t affect his performance at all. If he actually plays, that is.
Onto the lineup. The three rounds of this competition this season have seen us field teams filled with young or second choice players, with the odd first teamer thrown in to hold them together.
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I’m not expecting much different this time around. Maybe if we had been given a harder fixture, away to another Premier League team perhaps, I think the lineup would be much stronger. We were, however, very fortunate with the draw. I think I’m much more excited than most about that – some of my favourite games of the season are those where we get to see our future stars show what they can do. Notable ones last season were the League Cup Quarter final (hoping for more of the same) and the FA Cup fixture at home to Exeter, where young winger Sheyi Ojo scored his first goal for the club.
While we’re on that topic, Ojo has just completed his recovery from a lengthy spell on the sidelines (his first of the two injuries was in late July) and should be ready to play. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking from me, but I’d very much like to see him play a part next Tuesday. Here’s my lineup for the game:
Sturridge will probably miss out and maybe Ejaria will slot in the middle instead of Grujic, but either way, I think Wijnaldum will start. Playing an entirely inexperienced midfield three could be too much of a risk.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to the game and let’s hope I’ll be doing another match preview for the semi-final!