Jurgen Klopp has warned the EFL that Liverpool will quit the Carabao Cup if their packed fixture schedule is not treated sympathetically and room for their quarter-final tie is not given a fair date.
The Reds moved into the quarter-finals with with a 5-4 penalty shootout win over Arsenal, after a crazy, thrilling 5-5 draw at Anfield.
But there was little time to celebrate before Klopp was expressing his concern about the scheduling of their next tie.
Match dates for the last-eight round are scheduled for the week commencing December 16, when Liverpool will be in Qatar at the FIFA Club World Cup.
And Klopp said if a suitable alternative, the most likely being week commencing January 6, the scheduled date for the first leg of the semi-final, could not be found then they would refuse to play.
“FIFA told us the Club World Cup will be there (Qatar) and we have to come there and we will do,” said Klopp, who made this startling admission about hometown hero Curtis Jones at full-time.
“The Premier League tells us we have to play in the Premier League, which we do obviously.
“The Carabao Cup, if they don’t find an appropriate place for us – not 3am on Christmas Day – then we don’t play it.
“We will not be the victim of this problem. If they don’t find a proper date for us, then we cannot play the next round and whoever is our opponent will go through – or Arsenal play them.”
It seems highly unlikely the EFL would run the risk of allowing Klopp to carry out his threat, considering the commercial and television appeal the record eight-time winners of the competition carry.
But Klopp has put the ball firmly in the organiser’s court and given them plenty of warning of the potential consequences.
After their action-packed game at Anfield the EFL will not want their competition to reach its final stages without one if its main draws.
The game swung one way and then the other as after Shkodran Mustafi’s own goal Arsenal took a 3-1 lead thanks to Gabriel Martinelli (two) and Lucas Torreira, before James Milner’s penalty just before the break.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles restored the Gunners’ two-goal cushion, two goals in four minutes from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Origi levelled things up and after Joe Willock scored a goal worthy of winning such a entertaining encounter Origi volleyed home in the fourth added minute to set up a shootout.
Only substitute Dani Ceballos missed, leaving Scouser and academy graduate Jones had the honour of scoring the winner in front of the Kop.