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Sep 24, 2020 at 7.45pm UK
LincolnLincoln City
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Shaqiri (9'), Minamino (18', 46'), Jones (32', 36'), Grujic (65'), Origi (89')

Preview: Lincoln City vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's EFL Cup third-round clash between League One Lincoln City and Premier League champions Liverpool, including predictions and team news.

League One side Lincoln City welcome world champions and Premier League holders Liverpool to the LNER Stadium in the third round of the EFL Cup on Thursday evening.

Jurgen Klopp's side have made a perfect start to the new season with two wins from two, but take on a Lincoln team in fine form themselves at the beginning of the campaign.

Match preview

Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring against Chelsea in the Premier League on September 20, 2020© Reuters

The visit of a genuine footballing giant like Liverpool is always an exciting occasion for a club like Lincoln, even if their fans will not be there in person to witness Klopp's stars in action.

The lack of fans is only likely to further hamper Lincoln's hopes of pulling off a stunning upset, but their players will be dreaming of doing so nonetheless against what is sure to be a weakened Liverpool side.

The Reds have a Premier League showdown at home to Arsenal looming on Monday night and will rotate heavily even this early in the season, which means that many of the star names may not feature.

Regardless, Liverpool will still be able to field an XI of significant quality, and they will want to continue their winning habit at the start of the campaign despite the EFL Cup being at the bottom of their priority list.

A domestic cup is the silverware which has eluded Klopp during his time on Merseyside so far, and in two of the last three seasons they were knocked out of the EFL Cup at this very stage.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pictured on September 12, 2020© Reuters

Last season they were only dumped out when they fielded their youngest ever team in the quarter-final against Aston Villa while the senior squad were away at the Club World Cup.

There is likely to be a youthful feel about their team in this match, albeit not to the same extent, but they will still take confidence from their statement-making 2-0 win at Chelsea on Sunday.

That result underlined their title credentials after a summer in which most bookmakers made them distant second favourites behind Manchester City to retain their crown, and the challenge for Klopp now will be to replicate that dominance in other competitions.

As far as Lincoln are concerned, they will go into this game with nothing to lose and full of confidence after their own perfect start to the season.

The Imps have won all five of their competitive games so far in 2020-21, hitting the ground running after winning only one of their final eight League One outings before last season was curtailed in March.

Lincoln City players celebrate scoring against Bradford in the EFL Cup in September 2020© Reuters

Thursday's match will be their first EFL Cup tie of the season at home, having already edged past Crewe Alexandra and thrashed Bradford City on the road to reach the third round for the first time since 1996-97.

Lincoln have only made it as far as the fourth round once before - way back in 1967-68 - and know that another glamorous tie against either Leicester City or Arsenal awaits them should they claim Liverpool's scalp.

Such ties would normally be money-spinning affairs which bring as much financial security off the pitch as they do fanfare on it, but manager Michael Appleton will still be urging his players to make the most of what could be a once-in-a-career occasion for many of them.

That said, two wins from two in the league so far has lifted them into the automatic promotion places at this very early stage of the campaign, raising optimism that an unexpected playoff push could be possible this season.

That would be some feat for a team that finished 16th on the points-per-game basis last season and were playing in the National League just three years ago, and matches like Thursday's help to drive home just how far Lincoln have come in that time.

Lincoln City EFL Cup form: WW
Lincoln City form (all competitions): WWWWW

Liverpool form (all competitions): WW

Team News

Thiago Alcantara in action for Liverpool on September 20, 2020© Reuters

Klopp will make wholesale changes to his side for this match, and it is likely that it will be an entirely different XI to the one which started against Chelsea at the weekend.

One star name who could be in line to feature is Thiago Alcantara as Klopp looks to build him up to full fitness and integrate him into the team, although with an injury doubt over captain Jordan Henderson, the summer signing may not be in the starting lineup with Arsenal on the horizon.

Diogo Jota could be handed his Liverpool debut, though, having joined from Wolverhampton Wanderers last week in a deal which could rise to £45m.

A mixture of fringe players and youngsters could make up the rest of the XI, including the likes of James Milner, Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino, Curtis Jones and Kostas Tsimikas, the latter of whom is also in line for his debut.

Joe Gomez is expected to be available but is unlikely to start after missing out against Chelsea, while Xherdan Shaqiri will also be pushing for a place as he battles back from a muscle injury.

Joel Matip and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are definitely sidelined for Klopp's men, while an Under-21 fixture on Tuesday night could limit the number of youngsters chosen.

Lincoln naturally have fewer rotation options and so could name close to the side that beat MK Dons at the weekend - a match which saw captain Liam Bridcutt make his first start of the season after a hamstring injury.

Harry Anderson and Joe Walsh have also recovered from recent injuries and are available, while Appleton must decide whether to start Tom Hopper or Callum Morton up front, both players having scored on their most recent starts.

Anthony Scully, who scored in the last round against Bradford, will hope to earn his place back in the side, while Max Melbourne could also return on that left flank after being dropped for youngster Sean Roughan at the weekend.

Lincoln City possible starting lineup:
Palmer; Eyoma, Montsma, Jackson, Melbourne; Bridcutt, McGrandles, Jones; Anderson, Hopper, Grant

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Adrian; Williams, Phillips, Van den Berg, Tsimikas; Milner, Grujic, Jones; Minamino, Origi, Jota

SM words green background

We say: Lincoln City 1-3 Liverpool

Liverpool will be much-changed for this match but could include a number of players particularly eager to impress - including some who could even be playing for their futures at the club.

Lincoln have started well and will be confident, but it would be a huge upset if they were to avoid defeat against the might of the Premier League champions.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data


Who will progress to the fourth round of the EFL Cup - Lincoln or Liverpool?

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