Welcome to the Carabao Cup, where winners lose and losers win

Jurgen Klopp has criticised the packed schedule

Gather round, gather round, for the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup are here. Win and your reward is at least one more match, potentially even a two-legged semi-final, at a time when the fixture schedule is already bursting at the seams. Lose and, well, you could be better off, actually.

As Premier League clubs met on Monday to confirm they will push through with its relentless festive programme, despite Covid-19 causing chaos throughout the top flight, the Carabao Cup remained unmoved, lingering in the background while arriving sharply up ahead.

The prospect of three matches in six days, including back-to-back fixtures on 26 and 28 December is the reality facing most Premier League teams over Christmas and New Year. For some of those Covid-hit squads, it is a situation complicated further by the additional obstacle of the Carabao Cup and the headaches that could be caused through further involvement in the competition.

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