Whilst the Carabao Cup isn’t particularly high on anyone’s agenda, whether that be a manager or supporter, for fringe players like Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell it offers the opportunity to leave a lasting impression.
The 20-year-old defender has quietly been making a name for himself away from the spotlight throughout the past year, making 12 Premier League appearances last season for the Foxes and two in the Champions League, whilst he’s quickly become a regular left-back for the England Under-21s.
However, Christian Fuchs is proving hard to budge in first-team so far this season, with Chilwell only featuring in one of the opening five league matches, so he had to settle for Carabao Cup action on Tuesday.
The youngster hasn’t complained though, going about his lack of first-team opportunities in the correct manner by doing his talking on the pitch and he put in another excellent display last night.
Faced with the potentially daunting task of an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain determined to make an impression after a false start at Liverpool he stood up to the task admirably, giving the £40 million deadline day signing little time on the ball and matching him stride for stride down the right side.
The one time he did lose sight of the England international – within the opening five minutes – he recovered superbly to put in a last-ditch block from point-blank range, denying him a sure opener.
It was this timely early intervention that set the tone for Chilwell’s entire evening, with the England Under-21 man putting in a rear-guard performance that repelled Liverpool’s every attempt to score.
He contributed four clearances, four interceptions, won five tackles and blocked three shots in an influential display as the visitors left the King Power frustrated and, ultimately, out of their first cup.
There has been growing talk for a while that Chilwell has all of the attributes to succeed the likes of Danny Rose and Ryan Bertrand in the England national side, being the future of Gareth Southgate’s side on the left-side of defence, and if he can continue performing like last night you can see why.
In terms of the more immediate future his performance must have given boss Craig Shakespeare some food for thought ahead of Saturday’s re-match, with it now hard to leave him out of the starting eleven.
Jurgen Klopp’s side will no doubt come back with a vengeance – the old cliché once bitten, twice shy could apply here – with the likes of Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah set to be unleased on Leicester’s defence, but Chilwell will have the confidence from Tuesday’s performance to keep them at bay.