Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota solve big Liverpool frustration and Man City prove it
Liverpool have not got too many areas to improve on after the last couple of seasons, but their performances in the domestic cups is definitely one.
Through no fault of their own, the Reds crashed out of the Carabao Cup last season after being forced to play their quarter-final tie against Aston Villa just 24 hours before they took on Monterrey in the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar.
A youth team of players managed by then-U23s boss Neil Critchley did their best, but were well beaten 5-0 at Villa Park on that occasion.
Fixture congestion is set to be an even bigger problem across the country this season, and while Liverpool are unlikely to find their schedule is ever as packed as that mid-December farce, something else has changed too.
With the signings of Thiago Alcantara and Diogo Jota, plus with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Gini Wijnaldum, whose contract is running down, and James Milner still in the squad, Liverpool have a new level of depth to call upon.
As Paul Philbin said on the View From the Kop podcast: “Thiago will go straight into the starting XI once he is up and running, and that just makes the squad stronger.
“The Carabao Cup squad will be a lot stronger, the FA Cup squad will be a lot stronger, and all of a sudden, you might start seeing Liverpool in semi-finals of the domestic trophies as well now.
“And it’s not even just Thiago and Jota – in January they brought in Takumi Minamino and then in the summer, Kostas Tsimikas. In two windows, they have brought in two players who have made not just the first team stronger, but also the squad.
“Against Leeds United, the bench was strong but there was something missing. That something missing is going to be someone who started against Leeds who is now going to be on the bench because of Thiago.”
Man City have had a monopoly on the Carabao Cup while Pep Guardiola has been at the club, reaching the final in all but one of the last five seasons – winning the last three while the Spaniard has been in charge.
In the FA Cup, meanwhile, Liverpool have not reached a final since 2012, and last won the competition in 2006. They are yet to win the trophy in the new Wembley.
The Carabao Cup and the FA Cup might not be the highest trophies on Liverpool’s hit list, but silverware has always been important. Now, Jurgen Klopp has the squad to compete on all fronts.