Lincoln City v Liverpool: Imps counter-attack to succumb to the red machine

Liverpool are in Carabao Cup action on Thursday night with a third round tie at Lincoln, and Alan Dudman is expecting a clinical performance from the Premier League champions...

Lincoln City v Liverpool
Thursday 24th September, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event

Appleton's counter-attack system is working wonders

Lincoln City have been one of the most active League One clubs in the summer in terms of transfers in. With 12 signed up before their third tier opener, boss Michael Appleton had done the bulk of his business already, although he is still on the lookout to add an attack-minded player to complete the finishing touches to his squad.

His team have looked good so far, winning five in a row in all competitions and a perfect two-out-of-two in the league. Saturday's 1-2 triumph at the MK Dons was another counter-attacking masterclass. So many teams are playing this way now, and the Imps are well-drilled with outstanding organisation. Indeed, MK Dons boss Russell Martin commented on the Imps by saying how good they were out of possession.

In terms of the EFL Cup, City are looking to reach the fourth round of the competition for just the second time, last doing so in 1967-8.

En route to this game, they thrashed Bradford on the road 0-5 alongside a 1-2 victory at Crewe.

Reds begin their EFL Cup campaign following perfect top flight start

It's a great draw to have the six-times European Champions at the LNER Stadium (although I often refer to it as Sincil Bank), and their top-flight campaign has started with two victories against Leeds and Chelsea - give or take a few scares in the opener.

Manager Jurgen Klopp's transfer business might not be done yet, although additions of Diogo Jota and Thiago Alcantara are top-class. Klopp has a habit of finding a particular player for a specific area. And while it sounds easy, clubs spend fortunes trying to achieve that knack but regularly fail.

Jota ccould be an interesting one to get a run-out here, but I'm expecting squad players such as Rhian Brewster, Harvey Elliott, Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi to be involved - so it's always worth waiting for that all-important team news. Liverpool's U21s played on Tuesday night, so that could have an impact in terms of youngsters being available.

Last term Liverpool had a crazy EFL Cup run. The opening 0-2 win at the MK Dons was fairly mundane in comparison to the carefree 5-5 with Arsenal and the kids losing 5-0 at Aston Villa.

Match Odds

For the past two weeks, the markets have largely been the same for the TV games; with the Premier League club ultra-short, and the League One/Two club in double figures.

I only fancied two upsets previously. One was Burton against Aston Villa, with Albion holding on to a 1-1 until 88 minutes. The other was Luton on Tuesday night, and bar a sloppy bit of defending to concede a penalty just before the break, they were in the game for a Double Chance bet for a while until two late goals on 88 and 92. While 88 minutes is clearly not a lucky number for me (MK Dons equalised against Doncaster on the clock too), it highlights how the strong teams can assert late on.

Maybe it's fitness, but a lot is concentration. Top players never switch off.

Lincoln gave Everton a run for their money in the EFL Cup second round last term in a thrilling 2-4 loss at home, but it's highly unlikely they'll be able to do that against Liverpool. Even a much-weakened Liverpool at that. Prior to that Toffess defeat, the Imps had beaten eight higher-league clubs over 90 mins in three years - a stat to bear in mind, but ultimately one that won't persuade me to get involved in backing the hosts, even at a massive 16.00.

While the game might not be high on the list of priorities for Klopp, I wouldn't anticipate many layers will be eager to take on the visitors at 1.23. It's not really a backable price either.

So far we've seen Everton win 3-0 in the competition (against Salford), and Manchester United working hard for the same scoreline. I can envisage a similar sort of scenario here. There are a few ways to play the game, but Liverpool To Win To Nil 'Yes' at 1.88 looks the most attractive, whilst the visitors -2 on the Asian Handicap at 2.10 looks more than acceptable.

KEY OPTA STAT: Liverpool have progressed from 15 of their last 16 League Cup ties against sides form lower divisions - with the exception of a shootout loss v Northampton in 2010/11.

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