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Liverpool will host Luton Town in the mid-week before the big cup final against Chelsea

Liverpool will host Luton Town in the mid-week before the big cup final against Chelsea come the weekend as the Reds from Merseyside look to build some momentum before travelling to Wembley on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp’s side are on a twenty-five match unbeaten run going into the mid-week fixture.

Liverpool visited Gtech Community Stadium at the weekend as they comfortably took three points off Thomas Frank‘s Brentford. Darwin Nunez started the scoring with a brilliant chip over Mark Flekken before Alexis Mac Allister double the lead in the second half as Mohamed Salah gave them the comfort of three coming off bench and Cody Gakpo closed the day off with fourth. Jurgen Klopp’s first pumping came full in-force following the final whistle, but the joy lasted beyond West London as Manchester City drew 1-1 to Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium to close the night. This ensures Liverpool stay atop of the Premier League table and their fate is all in their hands with four points clear of third placed City with a game more played and two points gap to the Arsenal.

Meanwhile, Rob Edwards‘ Luton Town are winless in three successive games. As Liverpool found joy in the Bees’ defensive mistakes on Saturday, Luton are to be blamed for a couple of their own that gave Manchester United an early lead at Kenilworth Road which ended in a close defeat despite the hosts throwing kitchen sink at it.

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Come Wednesday, Liverpool has an early opportunity to increase their lead atop the Premier League table while Luton will be looking to cause an upset that can have major implications in the title as well as the relegation race.

WHEN & WHERE?

Date: 21st February, 2024
Time: 19:30 HRS GMT
Venue: The Anfield Stadium

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee: Andy Madley.
Assistants: Eddie Smart, Nick Hopton.
Fourth official: Tom Bramall.
VAR: Simon Hooper.
Assistant VAR: Darren Cann.

TEAM NEWS

Liverpool are deep in a hole when it comes to injuries, they suffered triple injury issues in the weekend fixture against Brentford. Darwin Nunez had to be subbed off at half-time owing to a knock while Diogo Jota had to be stretchered off with a knee injury one minute before the closure of the first half. Curtis Jones was also subbed off in the thirty-fourth minute with some ankle problems. All of these adds up to Trent Alexander-Arnold’s knee problems that are keeping him at bay and Alisson Becker’s hamstring injury that is expected to keep him serving the sidelines for atleast a month.

Although it is expected for Darwin Nunez to return back to fold for the Luton game. As Mohamed Salah also only returned back from injury at the weekend, it’s to be seen whether Klopp will risk both of them before the cup finals.

Dominik Szoboszlai also has some problem with his thigh, though that doesn’t look serious and the Hungarian is expected to play some part before turn of the monthly calendar.

For Luton Town & Rob Edwards, they have lost their top scorer Elijah Adebayo to a hamstring injury on Sunday while warming-up before the game against Manchester United, although the severity of the injury is yet to be known. Mads Andersen continues having calf problems  and Marvelous Nakamba is expected to serve the sidelines till mid-march with a knee injury.

Tom Lockyer is still out and is expected to make a comeback at the dusk of March.

PRE-MATCH ANALYSIS

Rob Edwards values Alfie Doughty’s offensive contribution soo much that at the weekend his tactics involved the intention to keep the 24-year-old high and wide to drag Diogo Dalot and occasionally Raphael Varane for Chong can make the underlapping runs to get the crosses inside the box. Doing that Ross Barkley and other midfielders gets into the edge of the box because they got open space as both Mainoo and Casemiro have to drop back with Dalot and Varane wide, so there is space to work with.

Luton should be planning similar against Liverpool as they can exploit full-backs roaming around offensively. Pressing in wide areas to ascertain numerical advantage, although the hosts are known for pin-point long balls that can cause major damage and doing this could play right into Liverpool’s hands.

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For Liverpool, we need to see whether Jurgen risks majority of his first team regulars or will play a side just capable enough of doing the job. There already is ample of injury concerns he has on his hands – he wouldn’t want more before the final run-in of the season.

KEY PLAYERS

Ross Barkley

To contemplate how good Ross has been for Luton we can use this quite as a base, this is Cesc Fabregas speaking to BBC Planet Premier League podcast on Barkley following Luton’s game against United, “He’s playing at a fantastic level. I’m very happy for him because he lost his way a little bit, he lost his confidence and now he’s back at it, You always need a player like this when you are in a team for example that didn’t have the confidence that they wanted. At Luton they were struggling and then when you see now that they have a proper idea of how they want to play.

“Everyone understands and then you have this player in midfield when you play against Manchester City for example, when you lose the ball, they press and you have a player that can hold on to the ball for two, three seconds, make that next pass forward and make the team tick. It makes such a difference because it brings so much relief to the team. I think he’s bringing all his experience and leadership to this team and it’s very needed because every time he’s on the ball things happen for Luton and they are very blessed to have him.”

He will have to take charge of the midfield once again if Luton are to take anything away from Anfield, and Jurgen Klopp would already know that.

PREDICTED XI

Liverpool probable lineup vs Luton Town: Kelleher; Bradley, Quansah, Van Dijk, Robertson; Gravenberch, Endo, Mac Allister; Salah, Gakpo, Diaz

Luton Town probable lineup vs Liverpool: Kaminski; Bell, Osho, Mengi; Ogbene, Barkley, Lokonga, Doughty; Townsend, Chong; Morris

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