At time of writing it appears as though Aston Villa and Liverpool could be set for something of a role reversal on Friday night.
It was 13 months ago that a youthful Reds side headed to Villa Park for a Carabao Cup quarter-final while their more senior teammates were over in Qatar at the Club World Cup.
Liverpool’s kids actually acquitted themselves quite well for much of the game, but in the end they were somewhat battered and bruised by a much more experienced Villa side, who won 5-0.
This time around, and in the FA Cup, it is Villa who look like they could be fielding the kids as a coronavirus outbreak has ripped through the first-team squad.
As is also the case at Derby, Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday, all of the club’s senior stars could be forced to stay away as the Villans pick the kids.
So what does that mean for Liverpool?
Jurgen Klopp was probably always going to use this game to rest a few of his big names, but if the calibre of the opposition is reduced somewhat then this might be a great chance for some of Liverpool’s lesser lights to shine.
Here are five for whom this could be the perfect game.
We’ll start with a kid of Liverpool’s own.
Williams was away at Kidderminster Harriers when the Carabao Cup tie took place last season, but he’ll expect to add to his 10 senior Reds appearances this time around.
That number is already far more than he would have expected of course, and the teenager will surely relish the chance to take on players his own age.
At 23, Phillips is actually a few months older than Joe Gomez, the man he has effectively replaced this season, but in terms of experience the pair could hardly be more different.
The centre-back hasn’t let anyone down when he’s been called upon this season, but the fact remains that this is perhaps one of the unlikelier Liverpool careers of recent times, as the centre-back was on the verge of leaving the club in the summer.
Klopp has chosen Phillips’ games carefully, and this is probably going to be another one.
The Swiss attacker certainly possesses quality when he’s fit and available, of that there is no doubt, and he’d surely relish a chance to put on a show in front of Klopp.
His long-term future at the club might still be in doubt, but you do sometimes get an inkling that he still has a part to play this season.
Eyebrows were raised when Minamino was brought in for Mo Salah for last month’s trip to Crystal Palace, but he subsequently scored after three minutes and went on to play for full 90.
And since then, he’s not kicked a ball.
With Jurgen Klopp admitting that he should probably start using the Japanese international a little bit more, he’ll surely get a game here.
That Carabao Cup game in December 2019 proved to be the perfect chance for a couple of misfiring Villa strikers to get back amongst the goals.
Jonathan Kodjia bagged a brace and big summer signing Wesley also managed to score, and it could be that this proves to be a decent opportunity for Origi to find his shooting boots.
Still at the club despite numerous links away, the Belgian could target the youthful hosts as he looks for some confidence building strikes.
Should the FA Cup be going ahead this season? Have your say in the comments below
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