Liverpool go into first final of Jurgen Klopp’s farewell tour in fitting manner

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There is understandable concern heading into the Carabao Cup final, with at least 11 players considered out or doubts for Liverpool – but it seems fitting for Jürgen Klopp’s farewell tour.


By Jack Lusby, ThisIsAnfield.com


It is being framed as a crisis, and in reality, it is hard to avoid that view. Liverpool prepare for the first of up to three finals in Klopp’s last season in charge with eight players certain to miss out and at least three others on the ‘doubtful’ list.

The Reds will be without Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Thiago, Curtis Jones, Diogo Jota and youngsters Stefan Bajcetic and Ben Doak for the meeting with Chelsea at Wembley. The involvement of Darwin Núñez, Mohamed Salah and Dominik Szoboszlai will hinge on fitness tests late in the week. Nine players who could be considered key starters may, or will, sit the final out.

Klopp’s stance has been consistent: “As long as we have 11 players, we will go for it.” That paid off in Liverpool’s first test in what could be a defining week, as a mix of first and second-string players and academy youngsters, roared on by an Anfield crowd of nearly 60,000, fought back to beat Luton 4-1 on Wednesday night.

With Núñez, Salah and Szoboszlai likely to make the bench on Sunday at best, the same players will be expected to go again at Wembley, meaning the likes of Conor Bradley, Ryan Gravenberch, Harvey Elliott and Caoimhin Kelleher should all start a major final for Liverpool.

There is a sense that, given it is Klopp’s last of nine arduous seasons at Anfield in which Liverpool have overcome adversity time and time again, it always had to be this way.

From Salah’s early shoulder injury in the 2018 Champions League final, to overcoming Barcelona the following year with a 3-0 deficit and only 14 outfield players training the day before, to somehow clinching third place in 2020/21 despite Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams ending the season as starting centre-backs and so on, this is a situation that Klopp and his staff are familiar with.

But this final should always have been viewed as the one for these players in particular; the manager has always been committed to utilising his squad for the domestic cups, and not least the Carabao Cup.

When Liverpool went all the way to lift the trophy in 2022, among Liverpool’s 11 most-used players in the tournament were Kelleher, Jones, Takumi Minamino, Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Minamino was the Reds’ top scorer, with four, while Neco Williams shared the mantle of most creative with Alexander-Arnold, both recording two assists.

This season, Liverpool’s most-used 11 for the Carabao Cup reads: Kelleher, Elliott, Cody Gakpo, Jarell Quansah, Gomez, Jones, Kostas Tsimikas, Núñez, Virgil van Dijk, Gravenberch and Ibrahima Konaté. Top goalscorer is Gakpo, with four, while Quansah has laid on the joint-most assists with three, along with Alexander-Arnold and Núñez. Of those players, only captain Van Dijk, Konate, Jones and Núñez can be considered in Klopp’s first-choice starting lineup.

The Carabao Cup also gave Bradley his way into the side, producing an outstanding display over two legs against Fulham in the semi-finals, propelling the young right-back into the public eye and genuine consideration for a long-term starting role.

It has even given an opportunity for Klopp’s assistant, Pepijn Lijnders, to hone his craft before stepping out as a senior manager away from Liverpool at the end of the season. Klopp could rightly have taken media duties ahead of the final, but as has been the case throughout the tournament, Lijnders will do so again.

Before the decisive second leg against Fulham, Lijnders summed it up: “We would not have seen all these players, these young ones, if you don’t play in four competitions.”

“When we play all four competitions until the end, it creates for players a constant opportunity that maybe they are not playing now, but in two weeks they know they are going to play so they train in a different way, so that’s really important,” he told reporters.

“I like a lot if we play every three days, the more games we play the better because it means everybody will be involved. You are reaching finals and that means development [and] more difficult games means more development. It’s important and it gives opportunity.”

While the injury situation is a concern for Liverpool – with the likes of Alisson, Jones, Jota and Thiago expected to miss a lengthy period that includes the visit of Manchester City in the Premier League on March 10 – for this final, it bears little significance.

For Klopp’s Liverpool, the Carabao Cup is all about these little stories. Of Bradley finally stepping into Alexander-Arnold’s shoes; of Kelleher burying a spot-kick before watching Kepa blaze his over the bar to beat Chelsea in the 2022 final; of Quansah vindicating Klopp’s decision not to sign another centre-back last summer; of Kaide Gordon, Tyler Morton, Bobby Clark and more all getting the opportunity to show themselves.

Now, in somewhat forced circumstances, Sunday will bring another opportunity for this mix of youth and experience to clinch silverware for Liverpool. The hope will be that it is only the first of four trophies in Klopp’s final run, but even if it’s the only one, he will celebrate it just the same.


(Images from IMAGO)


To keep up to date with everything Liverpool, make sure you click follow on the team profile in the FotMob app. Download the free app here.

Liverpool go into first final of Jurgen Klopp’s farewell tour in fitting manner

There is understandable concern heading into the Carabao Cup final, with at least 11 players considered out or doubts for Liverpool – but it seems fitting for Jürgen Klopp’s farewell tour.


By Jack Lusby, ThisIsAnfield.com


It is being framed as a crisis, and in reality, it is hard to avoid that view. Liverpool prepare for the first of up to three finals in Klopp’s last season in charge with eight players certain to miss out and at least three others on the ‘doubtful’ list.

The Reds will be without Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Thiago, Curtis Jones, Diogo Jota and youngsters Stefan Bajcetic and Ben Doak for the meeting with Chelsea at Wembley. The involvement of Darwin Núñez, Mohamed Salah and Dominik Szoboszlai will hinge on fitness tests late in the week. Nine players who could be considered key starters may, or will, sit the final out.

Klopp’s stance has been consistent: “As long as we have 11 players, we will go for it.” That paid off in Liverpool’s first test in what could be a defining week, as a mix of first and second-string players and academy youngsters, roared on by an Anfield crowd of nearly 60,000, fought back to beat Luton 4-1 on Wednesday night.

With Núñez, Salah and Szoboszlai likely to make the bench on Sunday at best, the same players will be expected to go again at Wembley, meaning the likes of Conor Bradley, Ryan Gravenberch, Harvey Elliott and Caoimhin Kelleher should all start a major final for Liverpool.

There is a sense that, given it is Klopp’s last of nine arduous seasons at Anfield in which Liverpool have overcome adversity time and time again, it always had to be this way.

From Salah’s early shoulder injury in the 2018 Champions League final, to overcoming Barcelona the following year with a 3-0 deficit and only 14 outfield players training the day before, to somehow clinching third place in 2020/21 despite Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams ending the season as starting centre-backs and so on, this is a situation that Klopp and his staff are familiar with.

But this final should always have been viewed as the one for these players in particular; the manager has always been committed to utilising his squad for the domestic cups, and not least the Carabao Cup.

When Liverpool went all the way to lift the trophy in 2022, among Liverpool’s 11 most-used players in the tournament were Kelleher, Jones, Takumi Minamino, Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Minamino was the Reds’ top scorer, with four, while Neco Williams shared the mantle of most creative with Alexander-Arnold, both recording two assists.

This season, Liverpool’s most-used 11 for the Carabao Cup reads: Kelleher, Elliott, Cody Gakpo, Jarell Quansah, Gomez, Jones, Kostas Tsimikas, Núñez, Virgil van Dijk, Gravenberch and Ibrahima Konaté. Top goalscorer is Gakpo, with four, while Quansah has laid on the joint-most assists with three, along with Alexander-Arnold and Núñez. Of those players, only captain Van Dijk, Konate, Jones and Núñez can be considered in Klopp’s first-choice starting lineup.

The Carabao Cup also gave Bradley his way into the side, producing an outstanding display over two legs against Fulham in the semi-finals, propelling the young right-back into the public eye and genuine consideration for a long-term starting role.

It has even given an opportunity for Klopp’s assistant, Pepijn Lijnders, to hone his craft before stepping out as a senior manager away from Liverpool at the end of the season. Klopp could rightly have taken media duties ahead of the final, but as has been the case throughout the tournament, Lijnders will do so again.

Before the decisive second leg against Fulham, Lijnders summed it up: “We would not have seen all these players, these young ones, if you don’t play in four competitions.”

“When we play all four competitions until the end, it creates for players a constant opportunity that maybe they are not playing now, but in two weeks they know they are going to play so they train in a different way, so that’s really important,” he told reporters.

“I like a lot if we play every three days, the more games we play the better because it means everybody will be involved. You are reaching finals and that means development [and] more difficult games means more development. It’s important and it gives opportunity.”

While the injury situation is a concern for Liverpool – with the likes of Alisson, Jones, Jota and Thiago expected to miss a lengthy period that includes the visit of Manchester City in the Premier League on March 10 – for this final, it bears little significance.

For Klopp’s Liverpool, the Carabao Cup is all about these little stories. Of Bradley finally stepping into Alexander-Arnold’s shoes; of Kelleher burying a spot-kick before watching Kepa blaze his over the bar to beat Chelsea in the 2022 final; of Quansah vindicating Klopp’s decision not to sign another centre-back last summer; of Kaide Gordon, Tyler Morton, Bobby Clark and more all getting the opportunity to show themselves.

Now, in somewhat forced circumstances, Sunday will bring another opportunity for this mix of youth and experience to clinch silverware for Liverpool. The hope will be that it is only the first of four trophies in Klopp’s final run, but even if it’s the only one, he will celebrate it just the same.


(Images from IMAGO)


To keep up to date with everything Liverpool, make sure you click follow on the team profile in the FotMob app. Download the free app here.