Arsene Wenger has backed Liverpool to beat Aston Villa in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup next month despite Jurgen Klopp set to field a squad of youngsters.
There has been a lot of drama surrounding this fixture because the EFL Cup clash will be played on December 17, with Liverpool also competing in the Fifa Cup World Cup in Qatar on December 18.
Liverpool tried to reschedule the fixture at a more suitable date but nothing could be found, so it means that they will be playing two games in two days in two different continents.
Of course, that won’t be possible, so it means that Klopp will have to field a lot of youngsters either for that Club World Cup game or the EFL Cup match. And more than likely the German will play the kids at Villa Park. A lot of them!
Villa are without a doubt at an advantage and will be expected to progress through to the semi-finals. But former Arsenal manager, Wenger has backed the youngsters to prove their worth even though they will be second-favourites in this game.
“They have to play,” Wenger told Bein Sports. “They can beat Aston Villa, anybody in a big club in England plays the Carabao Cup with a youth team, basically, they did that against Arsenal recently and drew 5-5.
“I don’t think it’s a big problem for the club and I believe they can adapt to get through, even if they play with a younger team.
“Sometimes it gives you an opportunity as well, in the Carabao Cup, to play some players who have come back from injury or do not play enough competitions, so you can get them fit and competitive because you have this cup.”
It is a scenario that has fallen into Villa’s favour, so it would be a pretty big shock if the Midlands outfit don’t book their place into the last four.
In previous rounds, Klopp has fielded mainly youngsters in the EFL Cup, with the sprinkle of some senior stars, but given the importance of the Club World Cup to the reigning European Champions, Villa may find that not a single senior player will be present at Villa Park next month.
Questions have to be also be asked whether Klopp himself will be at the game because less than 24 hours after that EFL Cup tie, he will be expected to in Qatar, so once again, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the German opts against staying in England and then having to hop onto a plane just hours after that match has finished in the Midlands.