So here we are, tomorrow is the day of destiny: The League Cup Final. City have been really quite terrible recently, but then turned in one of the performances of the season in midweek. God alone knows which version of City will turn up.
This game is a big one for Liverpool as well. Jurgen Klopp will be looking to drag his strange and rag tag squad to some serious silverware in his first season in charge. To get some expert opinion on tomorrow’s opponents we turned to our friend @Ole_LFC, the chief writer and site editor for top Liverpool site Kopworld.
Hello, and thank you for coming on! So it’s a big final for both teams, though perhaps for slightly different reasons. Can you give us a quick run down of Liverpool’s path to the final? High and low points?
The opening game of the competition for us against Carlisle United was a close one. Danny Ings put us 1-0 up, but some poor defending allowed them to make it 1-1 and take it to penalties. Adam Bogdan was the hero – and probably for the first and last time. We drew Bournemouth at home next and beat them 1-0 in a much more comfortable showing than the Premier League game that finished with the same scoreline. We were handed what looked a difficult away trip to face Southampton, but we beat them 6-1 in what was possibly the best performance of our season so far. We went 1-0 behind before Daniel Sturridge proved just how important he is to us in his first start under Klopp. Stoke City were drawn against us in the semi-final, which was the tie most Liverpool fans seemed to be hoping for with City and Everton the other options. A very professional performance at their place saw us lead 1-0 after the first leg, but we followed it up with a poor showing at Anfield – although we only lost 1-0 thanks to an offside goal. Fortunately for us we won the penalty shootout with Joe Allen and Simon Mignolet taking the plaudits.
Who is likely to start up front on Sunday? The ongoing, seemingly mysterious issues with Daniel Sturridge look to have left a bit of a vacuum. What should City expect to face?
Daniel Sturridge will start – provided he doesn’t do himself any damage in the meantime. He’s by far our best striker and is the only serious rival for Sergio Aguero in the Premier League for the best striker label. Both are natural finishers and tend to hit the ground running after injury. The only way Christian Benteke will get the nod is if Sturridge and Divock Origi are both injured beforehand – and even then I would expect Roberto Firmino to play up top. And if he could repeat his performance at the Etihad this season, no Red would be disappointed!
Is Mignolet really the liability he comes across as? He’s clearly not world class but the criticism seems overblown sometimes…
Yes, he really is. He’s made so many mistakes that it’s no surprise when he costs us a goal. He’s made more individual errors than any player in the league over the last three seasons and has cost the team fifteen points this season with mistakes that have led to goals. There are very few, if any, Liverpool fans who have any confidence in him. He flaps at crosses, lacks concentration and just doesn’t look convincing. If your side put him under any sort of pressure on Sunday, he will most likely give you an assist. His decision making isn’t good enough. The new contract was a shock and disappointment to most fans and the hope from most is that it is merely to protect whatever value he has. The worry is that Klopp thinks he can make this guy a number one for years to come here. He’s said it himself – he’s no magician.
Jurgen Klopp’s first season has had its ups and downs. What is your assessment of him so far? Is a cup final (and possible trophy) something you expected this season or are you taking a longer term view on him?
Klopp took over a very ordinary squad. I certainly didn’t expect him to turn the side into top four contenders instantly – even if this is one of the lowest quality Premier League tables in years. He has decided to take a look at what he has and not make any quick changes in January, which is a decision that I can accept despite a little impatience. If he can win the League Cup it will quickly remove any potential for a monkey on his back and get any premature talk of him being a failure gone. He’s got a massive job on his hands here and he’s going to have identified what needs addressing in the Summer – and a trophy in the cabinet would be an early marker to help show what he’s looking to achieve here. But, as he showed at Dortmund, he will need some time to build a squad that can compete – and it’s a great time for rebuilding as nobody else in the country is the finished article. Which is something Pep Guardiola will find out next season.
How has James Milner been doing? You a fan?
He works hard and that’s all I expected from him. He will always give 100% and you can’t ask for a great deal more from a player. He doesn’t excel at anything outside of workrate unfortunately. I think his instant appointment as vice-captain by Brendan Rodgers is indicative of how lacking our squad is when it comes to leadership and experience. He gets the odd goal and assist here and there, but I don’t think he offers enough going forward. I wouldn’t think that his place in the side is assured going forward and I would hope not as well, given what he’s contributed.
(We at Typical City expected him to do a lot more than he has at Liverpool. It’s fair to say we underestimated the extent to which he relied on his City team mates – Ed.)
Predicted line up and score?
I would expect something like this:
Simon Mignolet; Nathaniel Clyne, Kolo Toure, Mamadou Sakho, Alberto Moreno; Emre Can, Jordan Henderson, James Milner; Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino; Daniel Sturridge.
I am going to say 2-1, either way.
Thanks again and all the best tomorrow…
Typical City is funded by the readers via our Patreon page. Please consider funding us with $1 a month so we can continue to operate as we are now. Thank you in advance.
Interview by Alex Timperley