Liverpool are heading to Wembley to face Chelsea in the League Cup final after beating Arsenal at the Emirates. After all that rest, too!
Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool
Liverpool progress 2-0 on aggregate
League Cup Semi-Final Second Leg, Emirates Stadium
January 20, 2022
Goals: Jota 19′, 77′
Kaide and Kweev!
What a massive vote of confidence for the Academy pair – Caoimhin Kelleher picked in goal, Kaide Gordon starting right wing for a must-win semi-final.
The Irish ‘keeper, our No. 2 and cup stopper, has always been a safe pair of hands when his first-team opportunities come along, so there should have been no fears at all.
An early tip onto the bar showed he was ready to do the same again.
Gordon had a pretty quiet first half, as might be expected, mostly making sure he held his position wide as an outlet and tracking back diligently to ensure he ticked the off-the-ball boxes.
His big, massive, huge, mammoth chance came after the restart – and he whacked it over. Room for improvement, which will come for this prodigious teenage talent.
Jota back on the goal trail
No goals since December 22 for Diogo Jota – a month of blanks and missing matches, while the Reds were worrying about where the goals were going to come from.
Good timing then for him to rediscover his scoring touch, getting the Reds on the front foot and making Aaron Ramsdale, an already silly-looking goalkeeper, look even more silly.
We’ve seen this finish from Mo plenty: cut in, but instead of Robben-ing it into the far post, scruff it near post instead. It worked great for Jota, wrong-footing the ‘keeper and sneaking in between three lunging defenders.
His dribble past White on the left wing was both brilliantly executed and fun to watch, resulting in Gordon’s great chance. The second goal wrapped it all up and was miles onside!
Half the game for Joel Matip, the other half for Ibrahima Konate. Was it a pre-planned change? Was the more senior man ill? Or was it a response to an uneven showing?
Joel was wayward with a few passes, one or two clearances went awry and he just didn’t quite look on it in the first 45′ at the Emirates.
Konate quickly showed one or two defensive bits to suggest he was a little more alert and alive, as well as picking up a booking for a lovely piece of cynical play. Almost scored too after a brilliant header bounced back out off the post.
Might be an interesting selection at the weekend for the boss.
A decade overdue!
So Liverpool are heading to Wembley – and we’ll be hoping to beat Chelsea for our first League Cup triumph in 10 years.
2012, Kenny Dalglish: that was the last time we won a trophy which used to be our personal domain. If we pick up our ninth triumph, the record haul will be ours alone once more.
Tonight, in beating Arsenal, we had four Academy graduates in the side: Kelleher, Trent, Gordon and Jones. When we played that 2012 final, we had the same number coincidentally: Gerrard, Carragher, Kelly and Spearing.
We’ve been back to a final since then of course, when penalties denied us, and in another losing final it feels we owe Chelsea one – the Gerrard own goal final.
This team should have more silverware already, let’s be honest. So don’t be smug about the fact it’s the smallest domestic trophy – let’s go win the damn thing.
Back to London soon
So the Reds are set for a return to London – and not just for Wembley, no.
On Sunday, to face Crystal Palace. A Premier League title is still on the line, don’t you know!
After back-to-back wins we should be feeling rather better about matters than most fans seemed to be after full-time in the first leg against the Gunners, with goals back on the menu and this performance a much better one from a defensive standpoint, too.
At our best we’re a juggernaut, playing and winning every few days, so even with a reduced squad by three or four, there’s no question we have the capacity to keep rolling, winning and showing improved performances.
And who knows, another week or so down the line, title hopes might just have taken another turn up a notch or two.