Liverpool will be facing Manchester City on Sunday after at the Wembley Stadium in the League Cup Final. This is the biggest match of the season for both clubs banked on the fact that their Premier title race hasn’t been smooth as one could have imagined.
For Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp, this match presents an opportunity to end the club’s silverware drought in his first season with the Merseyside club as he continues to get to grips with the demands of the Premier League.
If the manager can indeed help Liverpool add the Capital One Cup to their other eight League Cups in the cabinet, a chaotic first season and mid-table finish can be written off as a transitional period.
Speaking ahead of the final, Klopp said: “I think they [Manchester City] flew – they didn’t walk. It is not too difficult and I don’t think it is an issue.
“They will be fit. We will be fit. It is a final and no-one cares where you played your last game.
“I should not talk here about tactics – I think even in Manchester they have televisions so that is not for the press conference. You can be sure we will have a plan but it is not allowed to go with exactly the same plan in a completely different game.
“If I think about it I have a few nice pictures in my mind of after the game at Wembley, being together with our fans and a real reason to celebrate together with no doubts about why we do that.”
Up until now, Adam Lallana, Joe Allen and Martin Skrtel have all returned to full training for Liverpool, but none are expected to be included in Jürgen Klopp’s starting XI.
However, Dejan Lovren has recovered from illness earlier this week and could be recalled after Lucas Leiva was used at center-back in Thursday’s Europa League win over Augsburg.
For Manchester City, this is their last season with Manuel Pellegrini as their manager. The manager will be looking to go out on a high by winning this competition for second time in three years.
Speaking ahead of the competition, Pellegrini said: “Liverpool made a very good game here at the Etihad.
“We make a lot of mistakes in the first 15 minutes so they decide the game early, but all the games are different.
“After we finish on Sunday we have to return to the Premier League, we have another 36 points to fight for. We are six points behind the leaders but we will continue fighting until the end and we are not giving up. It gives you a lot of trust if you win this title.”
Manchester City have Wilfried Bony and Jesus Navas fit again, while Manuel Pellegrini is hopeful captain Vincent Kompany, ex-Reds winger Raheem Sterling and Bacary Sagna will be fine to feature after undergoing recovery sessions away from the main group.
Goalkeeper Willy Caballero will start between the sticks, and Bersant Celina, Manu Garcia and Aleix Garcia could all be in the squad, but Fabian Delph, Kevin De Bruyne and Samir Nasri are all long-term absentees.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Sakho, Toure, Moreno; Milner, Henderson, Can, Coutinho; Firmino, Sturridge.
Manchester city: Caballero; Kolarov, Zabaleta, Otamendi, Kompany; Fernando, Fernandinho; Silva, Sterling, Toure; Aguero.