Anfield raucous, silverware in sight – 5 talking points from Liverpool’s League Cup triumph


Though it may not have been the most entertaining of clashes, Liverpool’s League Cup semi-final win over Stoke City provided a welcome positive.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, January 25, 2016: Liverpool players celebrating the victory after 6-6 winning in penalties during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match against Stoke City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool gave fans a rollercoaster ride for the second game in a row, when they defeated Stoke on penalties in the second leg of their League Cup semi-final.

Shootout heroes Joe Allen and Simon Mignolet will dominate the post-match headlines, and will be amongst the post-match talking points for fans and manager alike.

Here are five more, from an emotional night at Anfield.


Anfield Raucous as Fans Find Their Voice

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, January 25, 2016: Liverpool supporters in Kop stand before kick-off of the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match against Stoke City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Stoke fans may have been singing “is this a library?” as they went through the tedious list of songs which every group of away fans sing at Anfield, but for once it wasn’t an accurate description of the home atmosphere.

Despite being a goal down the Kop were in full voice for much of the second half, and the rest of the ground weighed in with regular outbursts, even if they weren’t all supportive.

Another rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone rang out at the end of 90 minutes as the sides prepared for extra time, and the noise continued into the half-hour which followed.

The extra tension provided by the penalty shootout also added to an entertaining night in the stadium, and the decibels peaked when Allen scored the winning penalty.

The team and manager saluted the Kop at the end to round off a dramatic night, recognising their contribution.


Flanagan’s Return Gives Clyne a Break

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, January 25, 2016: Liverpool's Jon Flanagan warming up before the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match against Stoke City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jon Flanagan made his first start for the club since May 2014, having returned from a lengthy injury lay-off when he came off the bench against Exeter City in the FA Cup last Wednesday.

First of all, his return will provide much needed relief for Nathaniel Clyne who has played every minute of every league game for Liverpool so far this season.

Clyne had been the only senior right full-back at the club, after Javier Manquillo was released from his loan deal early and both Flanagan and Joe Gomez were injured.

The Liverpudlian offers a decent defensive option in the position, and when he does venture forward he keeps it simple and is occasionally effective as demonstrated by his dangerous ball across the six-yard box in the second half.

Having played in the full-back position on both sides of the defence, he offers valuable squad depth, as well as adding a much-needed local flavour to the side.


Defensive Set-Piece Practise

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, January 25, 2016: Liverpool's Lucas Leiva and captain Jordan Henderson in action against Stoke City's Peter Crouch during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s incompetence at set pieces is more of an ongoing conversation than it is a talking point, and Mark Hughes’s Stoke side—now as much renowned for the silky skills of Bojan, Shaqiri and Arnautovic as they are for post-Pulis set-piece bullying—stocked their starting XI full of height and gristle.

In an unexpected turn of events, Liverpool interrupted this particular conversation as they successfully prevented Stoke from scoring at numerous attacking free-kicks and corners throughout the game.

Both Emre Can and Mamadou Sakho each headed a couple clear, while Hughes might not have been too pleased with his side’s execution in some of these situations.

There’s plenty of work still to do in this area, but tonight’s game provided the players with some useful practise.


Extra Time, Extra Tired

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, January 25, 2016: Liverpool's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet celebrating the victory after 6-6 winning in penalties during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match against Stoke City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The additional 30 minutes’ work from the players in extra-time was exactly what Liverpool didn’t need.

The side have had a match every three or four days throughout the month of January, which might be fine with a full squad of players to choose from, but injuries have meant certain players are running on empty or coming back from injury too early.

The inexperienced sides sent out in the two games against Exeter have shown how stretched the squad is, and with another FA Cup game on Saturday at home to West Ham United, plus the return of the Europa League in February, the players could have done without the extended run-out tonight.

The mental drain of a penalty shoot-out won’t have helped either.


A Chance for Silverware

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, January 25, 2016: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match against Stoke City at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s last silverware was the League Cup trophy they won under Kenny Dalglish back in 2012, which was the eighth time they’d lifted it, making them the most successful side in the competition’s history.

The penalty heroics of Allen and Mignolet send the Reds to Anfield South on Sunday 28th of February, where they’ll hope to clinch their ninth League Cup against either Manchester City or Everton.


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  1. What I found interesting…

    It was Peter Krawietz giving instructions to players directly before the penos.

    That is an advantage when the technical analyst is actually on-site to give his direct unfettered input and not just pre-game. There is no distance between what he observes during the live game and to the manager or coach in combination with his prior knowledge of the opponent and individual players

    I know this because my firm has sports analytics solutions and it’s something we advise sports teams to do for effective feed back loop and timely on-demand insight delivery…

        • At some point the team lost a couple of trophies on the shootouts. They turned the stance “you can’t train it” around into “how can you train this?”. Lots of sports psychology and data went into a special programme to turn it around. Lots of sessions between the team potential shootouttakers and the goalies on how the other side approaches it. Talks between coaches and takers on how they wanted to be addressed right after the game (do you want to be left alone or talked too, do you want to go over the preferred spots of the opponents, drinks, food, hugs, cheers etc.) and work towards the shootout.

          Long story short: won the Olympic Gold medal on shootouts.

    • He is a Liverpool coach and I would expect him to be coaching the team at every opportiuity otherwise what are we paying him loads of dosh for! He needs to speak to Can to tell him to put his shooting boots on!

          • Yes and he was terrible. But coaching isn’t as simple as telling someone to put their shooting boots on.

          • Well as If I really meant that in a most serious fashion after celebrating the game tonight! Don’t really want to waffle on about a bit of a fun throw away comment I made! Go celebrate and get ready for your trip to Wembley! My Dad always told me to put my shooting boots on and it worked though if you really want to know! Night…..

    • i also noticed Klopp rushing to consult with Henderson immediately after the 120 mins for help choosing the players to take penalties. Hendo was even counting the names with his fingers.

      Shows how much Klopp trusts his captain. More importantly, Klopp also showed that he does not know the players well enough – especially regarding crucial matters such as taking penalties.

      Klopp consults. Klopp is human

  2. Anyone else think the problem with set pieces (corners in particular) is we’re actually putting too many men back? We often clear first ball but then the ball is falling to opposition players outside the box to put it back in under no pressure because all 10 players are in the box

    • Not proactive enough; the defense, the midfield, the whole lot!
      The only proactive people in this squad are Coutinho, Firmino and Sturridge who anticipate well enough to pose a threat, whereas the rest are just reactive and this needs to be changed.
      With Klopp at the helm, it will change albeit not as quickly as we’d like but change nonetheless.

    • Very good point – I think that is a big issue plus having a smallish player like Lallana the nearest guy on the edge of the 6 yards box.

  3. A major talking point should be that we went back to proper man marking at set pieces. They hardly looked dangerous from them.

      • Moreno wasn’t allowed in the box either btw. At free kicks he was the one man wall and with corners he was ready for the counter. But not allowed anywhere near our box.

  4. I would thought “we lost 0-1 at home to Stoke” might have been a talking point. It’s great to get through but that was not a good performance in regular and extra time. More of the same problems for Liverpool in the final third against a team very well organised and themselves very accomplished in possession. Klopp still has some serious work to do on this team to get them performing, at the moment he doesn’t seem to quite know what to do with them.

    • He does but he can’t very well jettison off those not even ready to be squad players at this moment.

      I’ll admit, I thought this batch had a lot more finishing and verve in them. Turns out they are either not fit for a big club or they need more intensive therapy to recover from the BR scars leftover. Time will tell but I do trust Klopp to not mince words or actions. Case in point, Joe Allen looking like an important player under him and the resurgence at times of Lucas.

    • We won thanks to Migs making a save and Allen was cool enough to score his penalty. Their goal was offside twice! So at the end of the day when it went to the wire and Allen pulled the trigger we won. Stoke lost at Anfield…. But I agree with everything you say!

  5. Even though a lot of criticism before this game was on our defensive mishaps i.e. mostly corners, shouldn’t we also be worried about the fact that we can never score from them. (And FKs)?

    • Agreed – our corners are pathetic and have no idea why we always gave out swingers. Moreno should be taking from left and Milner or someone better from the right.

      • Need to check the physics mate. From the left flag (ours), a leftie will outswing the ball. Ditto for a rightie from our right corner. If you want inswingers, then have a taker of the opposite foot, a leftie on the right and a rightie on the left!

  6. No doubt in my mind that firmino can be out next big thing …. But he needs ah creative midfield behind him

    • When our central midfield works, both our defense and attack looks a lot better. But then you’d expect that really.

  7. Who would have thought the hero’s and match winners would be Mignolet
    and Allen two of the most widely ( Including by myself ) criticised player’s we have well done and fair play to em both….Also great to see Flanno play in a full match again first full game ends up getting to a cup final a great reward
    for all that time out injured

    It sure wasn’t great to watch but all that really counts was the result winning ugly feels a bit nicer tonight and a trip back to Wembley even nicer still
    and tonight that’s all that matter’s….Well done the redmen.

  8. Think Smith should come on for Moreno until he sorts his head out. Play Moreno in the odd cameo role further forward – a la Enrique a couple of yeasts’ back. Allen should be in ahead of Can for a few games – the dude looks shot and is losing the ball (and making some poor decisions) in dangerous parts of the pitch.

  9. Compare the quality of tonight’s performance vs the performance BR helped orchestrate against Chelsea home and away in last year’s League Cup. We might have lost but even Mourinho (on his way to winning the double with a far stronger team than anything in this year’s league) admitted we were a “very good team”. Love Klopp but a year ago (before Stevie Me’s inexcusable red card – in a game we were coming back into and nearly still got a result from with 10 men) we were on some run.

  10. Great night for every lover of this great club. Here’s the question for everyone. Who would you prefer to play against at Wembley? MC or Everton and why. Personally I’d prefer Everton due to our rivalry and I believe Sahko and hopefully Lovren will deal with the treat of Lukaku easier than Aguero.

    • Everton of course as we can go together and drink together and laugh together… well as long as Everton lose! Who would want to play anything from Manchester anyway?

  11. 6. Can the mystery man; powerful runner, but huge turning circle, difficult to dispossess but cant see the killer pass, looks tired but plays the whole 120+penats.

    7. Balls through the middle; our only meaningful attacks through the middle came from chipped balls over stoke defenders, and with no darting runs to receive them we rarely created central threats. instead the ball would be fed wide and there were only 2-3 meaningful crosses. Coutinho continues to be our best source of creativity through the center.

    8. Man of the match; BBC’s MOTM was sahko, how can so much drama surround one player? numerous times he looked petrified with the ball at his feet around our defence, yet you push him up the field and he looks calm. his last ditch challenging was exceptional but he would often need this because he misread an opposition pass.

    • Sakho plays a high risk game. He was good yesterday. Big problem, not only for Sakho, was our movement when we won the ball. The whole team froze, no outlet for the player in possession on a regular basis, and that halts any rythm or flow and creates uncertainty throughout. As in the Norwich game, the midfield was not strong and clever enough.

      • Agreed, there has been very little creative output or “options” for our entire team, something we need to address very quickly, I imagine klopp knows this though, so the question is, can he do anything about it?

  12. It was one of the most boring matches I’ve watched in a while. Probably because both teams practised defence. I’m not so good at analysing games but… do I still hear that mad cry for Butland over Mignolet. Go Mignolet, you put Butland in butt land.

  13. Have a feeling Alberto Moreno won’t be around next season,very poor display yet again and getting the full blast from Jurgen going at him down the touchline.Simply not a good enough effort in a semi final. Some others stuck out as well,so they better pull their socks up in the next 3 months or they will be on the list too !
    Well played John Flannagan, Effort and commitment after being out so long was tremendous.
    How many will go in the summer? Well my guess is at least 11 !

    • Benteke is a big no. We have too many same type of attackers n big ben is different. Find him some good crosses of the ball n he will tear the defenders once he is settled n loved

  14. Credit where it’s due Mignolet pulled it out of the bag with a couple of fine saves in the shootout, still don’t think he’s the answer but he did well.

    Could have done more for me on the Stoke goal. Got the feeling that a top keeper would have got in the way of it.

    Right what’s the plan with Benteke? Seemed like he was actively trying not to get in the box or on the end of crosses, like he’s trying to prove he can play rather than just nod in a cross. I’m sorry but he needs to simply score! The cross that he jumped out of the way of and sahko headed wide, what was that?! Seemed like he was playing as a AM not a striker. I’ve had enough, his penalty was a disgrace, lucky that Butland didn’t go the right way.

    • The only one yo blame for the Stoke goal was the linesman.

      Bentekes penalty was the coolest of the lot. If Butland went the other way, so would the pen. He payed decent, but need to be more aggressive in the box.

  15. I’d send out a similar side to West Ham on the weekend, the guys simply can not play another full game on Sat then back to the league on Tues/Wed. I’d play Caulker, Allen, Texeira, Randall, Smith, Ward, Benteke, Lovren, Brannagan, Ibe and perhaps Stewart or another youngster.

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