The EFL has announced that Liverpool FC’s Carabao Cup quater final final fixture against Aston Villa will go ahead as originally planned, therefore condemning the Reds to back-to-back matches in December.
As a result Liverpool has confirmed it will be fielding two separate playing squads to cope with fixture congestion that sees it take on Villa on 17 December, before contesting its FIFA Club World Cup semi-final in Qatar on 18 December.
Following the announcement of the fixture confirmation, LFC released a statement which read: “We will be utilising two playing squads simultaneously, with one squad participating in the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar and another in the Carabao Cup.
“The club would like to take this opportunity to underline that while this is not an ideal scenario, it is an outcome which was arrived at with the best interests of the competition, our fellow clubs and ourselves as the sole motivating factor.
“We would like to thank the EFL for their efforts to accommodate us and we can confirm alternative dates were discussed, but ultimately none were considered suitable without compromising the scheduling of the competition itself or placing an undue strain on our playing staff.”
As well as having to contend with simultaneous games, Liverpool will also need to prepare for six midweek fixtures in a row between 27 November and 2 January as a result of the rescheduling of fixtures due to its participation in the Club World Cup.
Following the clubs 2-1 victory over Genk in the UEFA Champions League last night, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp stated: “We don’t know exactly yet [how the logistics will work]. We had to make a decision now and we made the decision because all the other alternatives were more problems than solutions.
“We have more important things to do now – today playing a game, then concentrating on the next game. But in these next couple of weeks we will make a decision how exactly it will look. But at the end, a Liverpool team will play, 100 per cent.
“The Carabao Cup, it always sounds like we don’t want to play it but that’s not true. The Club World Cup, you play only if you win the Champions League and that doesn’t happen in your life five million times, so that means we will take the opportunity if they ask you. Is it the best time of the year? No. Are we pretty busy? Yes. But you go there and we try to play all the games we have with all that we have.”
Liverpool, who currently sit top of the Premier League table, beat Arsenal on penalties in the last round of the competition, with the club at the time threatening the possibility of pulling out the competition due to a congested fixture list.
The club’s predicament follows on from the fact that the fixture with Aston Villa could not be rescheduled, with the English Football League (EFL) releasing a statement which cited the integrity of the competition as a reason to maintain its original date: “The EFL’s overwhelming priority is to maintain the integrity of the Carabao Cup and the decision taken is intended to protect the best interests of a competition that attracts millions of viewers at home and abroad with the final broadcast in more than 130 territories worldwide.
“It is also the best decision in minimising the impact of rescheduling the final stages of the competition on those Clubs who remain in the Carabao Cup and the knock-on effect this would have in both the FA Cup and the Premier League.”
Insider Insight: Fixture congestion has been a big talking point in England, specifically within the Premier League, as pundits and experts have theorised that a unlike in Italy, France, Germany and Spain a lack of a winter break could be limiting the performances produced by English teams.
With this being said, this congestion involving the FIFA Club World Cup should not be a problem too much longer as a change has been confirmed as of 2021 that will see the tournament played once every four years between 17 June and 4 July.