The Carabao Cup mightn’t be at the top of too many Liverpool fans’ priority lists at the start of a season, but Diogo Jota explained to Pep Lijnders why the tournament is still very important for the Reds.
Our participation in the 2023/24 edition commences in the third round against Leicester on Wednesday night, ahead of which Jurgen Klopp’s assistant took the pre-match press conference.
There will likely be numerous changes in personnel when it comes to the starting line-up, and the Dutchman outlined why the Merseysiders will be striving for a repeat of two seasons ago, when they lifted the trophy at Wembley.
As per Liverpool Echo, Lijnders said: “Normally in the cups we give debuts but we’re not here just for that. Players need to develop.
“I really feel – and Jota said it to me – the best thing in the 2021/22 season when we went [for] four trophies was [that] we stayed in [the] League Cup so long. Everyone gets a game, a healthy squad [is needed].”
Even though Liverpool’s season won’t be defined by what happens in the Carabao Cup, you can be sure that anyone who plays for the Reds in the tournament this season will be desperate to try and help the team to win it for a 10th time.
Jota makes a hugely valid point in terms of not only squad rotation to give first-team regulars a welcome breather, but also to ensure that those who don’t start many Premier League matches are given ample game-time so that they don’t feel excluded by Jurgen Klopp.
If we go on to have a marathon campaign similar to the quadruple assault of 2021/22, the importance of keeping the squad fresh and utilising every player available can’t be understated.
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The likes of Caoimhin Kelleher, Kostas Tsimikas, Ryan Gravenberch and Harvey Elliott would walk into almost any top-flight line-up – even Darwin Nunez has only made two league starts so far this term (WhoScored) – and they could comfortably step into the Liverpool starting XI.
For up-and-coming talents like Ben Doak and Jarell Quansah, the Carabao Cup may also offer a platform for valuable senior game-time to enhance their development.
Reds fans derived plenty of enjoyment from winning the final against Chelsea two seasons ago, and even if other tournaments may feel more important to some supporters, this competition isn’t to be dismissed.
As Jota pointed out to Lijnders, progression to the latter stages could give less regular starters some vital first-team minutes, keeping them involved and other players fresh.