ALEX JONES (@AlexJ0nes9) analyses the odds as Lincoln and Liverpool lock horns in the 3rd Round of the League Cup on Thursday night.
Lincoln vs Liverpool | Thursday 24th September 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Premier League champions Liverpool get their Carabao Cup campaign started on Thursday evening with a visit to Sincil Bank to play Lincoln.
Liverpool have made a strong start to their defence of the Premier League with two wins whilst the Imps have also won all five of their opening fixtures and have made an impressive start to their League One campaign, where they hope to be pushing for promotion.
Liverpool fringe players to be given a chance
Despite what is undoubtedly going to be a much-changed XI from the team that beat 10-man Chelsea at the weekend, the Reds still go off as massive favourites, as short as 1/6 in places.
Jurgen Klopp has a settled side and the cup competitions offer a huge opportunity for the young players coming through and the more senior fringe players to prove they are good enough for the Premier League.
Curtis Jones and Neco Williams are two academy graduates who may consider themselves in the first team now, with many minutes of Premier League football under their belts, but games such as this trip to Lincoln will certainly test their mentality. If they were to slack off, then Klopp would read this and could be detrimental to their chances of minutes in the Premier League.
There is a narrative that Klopp doesn’t care about the cup competitions, especially after sending the academy players and staff to Villa Park last season, where they were beat 5-0. That was more circumstance than a choice however, due to other first team commitments. He has always tended to field the experienced fringe players alongside the youth, and I’d expect him to do the same here.
This year’s route to the final is quicker than previous years, if Liverpool were to progress here and then a week later in the fourth round, they would have three months to prepare for the quarter-finals, before a potential one leg semi-final. I believe Klopp will see this as a massive advantage and go for a cup competitions.
The German was brought to the club to deliver the Premier League and the Champions League and he has since done that. From now on, competing for all four competitions is something Liverpool will be focusing on, similarly to Pep Guardiola’s Man City in recent years. This could see the likes of Diogo Jota handed his debut, alongside Kostas Tsimikas.
The betting angles
In this round last season, Liverpool faced MK Dons and were victorious 2-0. I could see the same scoreline here, with Klopp’s side keeping a clean sheet at Chelsea last time out whilst scoring twice.
Despite the aforementioned changes, the club have been prolific at winning smartly and by the odd goal in recent years. The 2-0 result is best priced 5/1 with the majority of major bookmakers. I will have a small dabble on this but only a half point play.
My main bet for this contest, however, will be Liverpool to win and Under 4 Goals in, priced at 11/10 with bet365. This way, we have the 0-1, 0-2 and 1-2 and 0-3 Liverpool win onside.
This bet would have landed in Liverpool’s cup wins over Everton, MK Dons and Shrewsbury last season and even if they go with Jota, Takumi Minamino and Harvey Elliott as there front three, I think they may lay off if they go ahead and see out a professional performance, not risking too much.
The Imps, who booked their place into the third round and a chance to play Liverpool after battering Bradford 5-0, may have won their first five, scoring 12 goals in the process, but they are up against the Premier League champions here with a much deeper squad to choose from than previous campaigns.
The Reds should have too much quality on display for Lincoln here and I can’t see past a professional Liverpool victory.