SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

“Bouncing” away end & “swagger” is back – Last word as Liverpool reach Carabao Cup final

‘We’re the greatest team in Europe and we’re off to Wembley’. Those were the calls from Liverpool supporters after the 1-1 draw at Fulham as positivity filled the air as another final beckons.

A third League cup final under Jurgen Klopp, don’t mind if we do – let’s just hope it has the same happy ending as the last one!

Luis Diaz was back on the scoresheet to ensure Liverpool’s lead from the first leg could not be overturned despite Issa Diop’s equaliser in the second half.

The damage had already been done, and now the Reds have a shot at silverware next month, not bad for a side who many had assumed would require a season of transition.

Here, Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) and Adam Beattie (@beatts94) discuss the trip to Anfield South to come and the positives from Liverpool’s progression to the final…

 

Another date with Wembley and the first final for Liverpool 2.0, just how big is that for the Reds?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 24, 2024: Liverpool's Luis Díaz celebrates after scoring the first goal during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JO: It’s all a little unexpected, if I’m being honest. This was not a season where I expected as much emotion and stress, I thought we needed more time.

I’m more than happy to change gears, though my sanity may say different!

When looking to bring together a new group this is the best way to do it, we had controversy earlier on that really pulled the team together and this final will only solidify that bond.

You can tell the squad know what is possible this season and I’m here for it.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 24, 2024: Liverpool's Luis Díaz celebrates after scoring the first goal during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ADAM: It feels amazing to get back to Wembley and this season already feels like it has a similar vibe to 2021/22.

We’ve got our swagger back and we’re looking really dangerous in all four competitions.

A lot has been made of the fact we’ve still not seen the best of the team this season but in the last few weeks, we’ve started to look especially impressive.

 

Adam, you were in the away end – we didn’t get Klopp fist pumps but what was that experience like?

ADAM: It was absolutely bouncing throughout the first half, particularly after the Luis Diaz goal, and I’m really enjoying ‘Ring Of Fire’ making a big comeback this season!

You could definitely sense nerves among us in the second half and their goal didn’t help that, but we’re used to doing these things the hard way.

The sense of togetherness is as strong as ever at the minute, the manager is really leaning into it and it feels like we could achieve special things between now and May.

 

Aside from reaching the final, give us two positives from the match…

LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 24, 2024: Liverpool's goal-scorer Luis Díaz celebrates at the final whistle during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JO: Jarell Quansah continues to impress and look settled with any and all situations thrown at him, this match was no different.

I recall making note of how he’s rarely ever afraid to take the game on and how freeing it must be to have a manager that will take the fall for any mistakes, but on the flip side is quick to dish out praise.

He’s really thriving under Klopp and with Van Dijk alongside him – what an experience, eh!

I also quite liked how we handled the late pressure. It should never have come to that but I thought Liverpool kept their heads rather well, Fulham only had one shot on target after their goal.

There’s more to be done with game management but a streak of nine games unbeaten across all competitions calls for plenty of positivity.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 24, 2024: Liverpool supporters celebrate their their's opening goal as a red smoke bomb billows away on the pitch during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ADAM: The performance really struck me, there was so much cohesion up front which is really pleasing to see given we’re without the main man Mohamed Salah at the moment.

The celebration with the players afterwards also felt massive, you could see how much it means to all of them despite the majority of them lifting this thing two years ago.

Harvey Elliott, in particular, was lapping it up at the end. It was a nice reminder that he’s still a young kid who is completely living his dream and loving every second of it.

 

Looking ahead to Sunday now, what are your thoughts regarding team selection vs. Norwich?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 24, 2024: Liverpool's Owen Beck, Bobby Clark, and James McConnell before the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ADAM: I’d personally try and give out some rests where possible, with a view to having some break glass options off the bench if needed.

It would be good to see the likes of Owen Beck get a runout, but at the same time, it feels a good opportunity to get some minutes into Andy Robertson‘s legs before Chelsea.

We should have enough to beat Norwich regardless, but I’ve got the quadruple firmly on my mind, so I wouldn’t want to push the risks too far!

LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 24, 2024: Liverpool's Andy Robertson during the pre-match warm-up before the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JO: I agree with you there Adam in regards to rotation, but it is also a good chance to reintroduce those who are coming back from injury.

We should have Robbo, Trent and Szoboszlai ready to come back in, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they all come off the bench for at least 30 minutes and stake a claim for Chelsea in midweek.

I’d love to see Bobby Clark get his chance from the start after three appearances from the bench so far, and his late cameo at Fulham suggests that will likely be the case.

As you say, we should have more than enough to beat Norwich at home and it serves as a really good chance to mix things up, see players return and give out some deserved chances.