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Oct 27, 2021 at 7.45pm UK
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Preview: Preston North End vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Preston North End vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Wednesday's EFL Cup clash between Preston North End and Liverpool, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

With their supporters still revelling in a once-in-a-lifetime humiliation of arch-rivals Manchester United, Liverpool's players must quickly refocus ahead of Wednesday's EFL Cup last-16 match against Preston North End at Deepdale.

The visitors will be firm favourites for the first ever League Cup meeting between the two sides, but Preston will be hoping for a hangover of sorts following Liverpool's five-star showing at Old Trafford.

Match preview

Regardless of how Liverpool and Manchester United are both performing, trips to Old Trafford are almost always approached with a feeling of trepidation amongst Liverpool supporters, making Sunday's unforgettable mauling all the more special for them.

Jurgen Klopp's side raced into a two-goal lead within 13 minutes against their greatest rivals, before an historic hat-trick from the irrepressible Mohamed Salah secured their biggest ever away win over Manchester United.

It is a result which will be talked about for years to come, but Liverpool's players and manager must quickly put it behind them and focus on progressing to the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup.

The Reds' record in domestic cups under Klopp leaves a lot to be desired, making it to the quarter-finals just once in the last four seasons of this competition, but on current form - and even with a much-changed XI - it would be a major surprise if they failed to improve that tally in midweek.

Liverpool are still unbeaten in 13 games across all competitions this season, while that tally increases to 22 if you include the tail end of last term - the longest current unbeaten streak in the top four tiers of English football, stretching back almost seven months.

There have been suggestions that Liverpool's current form is better than even the run which swept them to the Premier League title in 2019-20, and they are certainly putting teams to the sword with more regularity than any time in recent memory.

The Merseysiders have only failed to score three or more goals in one of their last 10 games across all competitions, and even that exception saw them net twice against a Manchester City defence which has been amongst the most miserly in Europe this season.

Liverpool have been particularly prolific away from home too, scoring at least three goals in each of their last nine such outings and plundering a whopping 33 goals in that time.

That run includes a 3-0 triumph at Norwich City in the previous round of this competition, while their last EFL Cup away game against lower-league opposition saw them hammer Lincoln City 7-2.

Indeed, Liverpool have made it through in 16 of their last 17 games against teams from a lower tier in this competition, and the only exception in that run came more than 10 years ago against Northampton Town.

Preston will be hopeful of putting up a better fight than most of those other teams, but they will know that they are welcoming one of Europe's most in-form teams to Deepdale and any positive result would be a major upset.

The Lilywhites have never reached the quarter-finals of the League Cup before, and have been knocked out in 14 of their last 17 ties against opponents from the top flight.

Their general form is not particularly encouraging either, with only one win from their last nine Championship outings and a 2-0 defeat at Blackpool on Saturday leaving them 19th in the table.

However, it has been a different story in this competition so far, with Frankie McAvoy's side scoring more goals than any other team in the 2021-22 EFL Cup on their way to sweeping aside Mansfield Town, Morecambe and Cheltenham Town.

Preston are also unbeaten at Deepdale in any competition since the opening day of the season, conceding only five goals during that seven-game undefeated streak.

Preston North End EFL Cup form:
  • W
  • W
  • W

Preston North End form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • L

Liverpool EFL Cup form:
  • W

Liverpool form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W

Team News

Liverpool are expected to make sweeping changes to their side for this match in order to rest key players, but their ability to rotate in midfield has been limited by injuries.

James Milner limped off with a hamstring injury after less than half an hour against Manchester United on Sunday, while Naby Keita later joined him on the treatment table having been stretchered off following a two-footed red-card challenge from Paul Pogba.

Both will miss out in midweek as a result, while Fabinho is also absent having been left out of the trip to Old Trafford entirely due to a knock to his knee.

Thiago Alcantara and Harvey Elliott also remain sidelined, which could force Klopp into either promoting a youth player or going with a triumvirate of Jordan Henderson, Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Sadio Mane and Joel Matip may start after being left out of the XI at the weekend, while other fringe players such as Joe Gomez, Neco Williams, Kostas Tsimikas and Takumi Minamino will be hopeful of game time.

Divock Origi is likely to lead the line, having scored 10 goals and created two more in his last nine League Cup starts.

At the other end of the pitch, there could be a rare start for Adrian in goal, with Caoimhin Kelleher suffering a setback in his recovery from illness and Alisson Becker likely to be rested.

Promising 17-year-old forward Kaide Gordon featured in the last round and could have been in line to start again in this match, but this match may come too soon for the youngster as he recovers from an injury.

Preston will be without the suspended Alan Browne after he was sent off late on against Blackpool at the weekend.

Connor Wickham, Isaiah Brown and Ched Evans are all sidelined too, but Liverpool have granted loanee Sepp van den Berg permission to play against them.

Josh Murphy has also been ruled out with an ankle injury, but there could be better news elsewhere with Matthew Olosunde and Alistair McCann in contention to return.

Emil Riis Jakobsen is expected to lead the line, having scored in every round of the competition so far, netting four of Preston's 11 League Cup goals in total.

Preston North End possible starting lineup:
Rudd; Storey, Bauer, Hughes; Van den Berg, Whiteman, Ledson, Earl; Johnson; Jakobsen, Sinclair

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Adrian; N Williams, Gomez, Matip, Tsimikas; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Jones; Minamino, Origi, Mane

We say: Preston North End 0-3 Liverpool

The cup history between these two sides is split at one apiece - Preston's victory coming in 1961-62 and Liverpool's in 2008-09, but in the present day it is difficult to see anything other than a routine Liverpool win.

The Reds XI is likely to be very different to the one which swept Man United aside, but they still have the strength in depth to comfortably see off a Preston team in pretty poor form in the Championship.

Given how many goals Liverpool are scoring away from home at the moment, we can see them continuing their remarkable run of netting three or more times on the road.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 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.Under 3.5:data

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