MATCHDAY PROGRAMME

Bradley, Elliott’s position & subs work again – Last word on Liverpool 2-1 Fulham

Liverpool turned things around again against Fulham at Anfield, leaving plenty to discuss from the Reds’ 2-1 League Cup semi-final win.

While this wasn’t vintage Liverpool, it was a Liverpool that we’re becoming used to. Again, the Reds found a way to win thanks to effective substitutions and tactical changes.

Until Jurgen Klopp has more of his squad back from injury and international duty, this running theme will likely continue.

Something these mixed showings do give us, apart from joy come the final whistle, are topics to debate.

Here, Sam Millne (@sam_millne) and Courtney Neary (@Courtney_Neary) discuss substitutions, Conor Bradley and Harvey Elliott, after Liverpool’s win over Fulham in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final.

 

What changed from first half to second?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 10, 2024: Liverpool's Cody Gakpo (R) celebrates with team-mate Darwin Núñez (L) after scoring the second goal during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

SAM: Personally, I don’t think anything really got better immediately after the break. It was when Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo came on that things started to turn.

Before then, Liverpool were just passing sideways as they had little to look for in front of them. We were too scared to play a killer pass, or perhaps didn’t have the quality to.

Once the substitutes entered, though, that fear began to dissipate and the attackers were more willing to take players on.

Even then, it took Curtis Jones‘ deflected goal to equalise but, from then on, Fulham left more space which played perfectly into Diogo Jota and Nunez’s hands.

COURTNEY: Like Sam said, I think as soon as we brought Gakpo and Nunez came on you could see the change in the attack – more energy came from the front three.

Watching the first half, I felt like the game screamed for Nunez to come on.

We needed someone to run at their defence and put some pressure on them, and if it weren’t for Bernd Leno having a cracking game, Nunez could have easily scored a few.

 

Do you think we should stick with Elliott on the right wing?

Liverpool's Harvey Elliott (left) reacts after a missed attempt on goal during the Carabao Cup quarter final match at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture date: Wednesday December 20, 2023.

COURTNEY: Personally, no, not upfront.

I like when Mo Salah is there and we see the passes down the side between Mo, Elliott and Trent Alexander-Arnold, but I always feel like Harvey struggles up front.

SAM: It depends on the opposition but, for me, the experiment seems to have failed for now.

It isn’t the fault of Elliott, but there were multiple times when the attack slowed down as he came back inside, whereas Salah may have had the pace to gain ground down the wing.

Luis Diaz, Jota and Nunez look like a decent makeshift front three, who rotated well and have combined with some success during their time on the pitch together, so that might be a better option.

 

Bradley impressed – long-term option or too soon to say?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 10, 2024: Liverpool's Conor Bradley during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

COURNEY: Bradley has impressed me for a long time with the youth team.

On Wednesday night, I was so pleased with how he took the opportunity and stepped up to the challenge – he was one of our best players on the pitch!

I’d say it is far too soon to say if he’s a long-term option, but he’s definitely looked promising so far.

SAM: Like Courtney says, it is too soon to say. After all, we’ve seen Neco Williams come in and perform in that position, only to end up at Nott’m Forest.

Bradley did himself no harm, though, and should at least retain his spot while Alexander-Arnold is out.

From my position in the ground, you could really see the concentration on his face when defending one on one.

In attack, he showed his quick feet multiple times and the ball for Nunez, who had his effort brilliantly saved by Leno, was perfect.

 

How might the second leg play out and will we go through?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 10, 2024: Carabao sponsorship branding seen before the Football League Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

SAM: The resilience shown by this team suggests Liverpool will progress, even if they do go behind again, at Craven Cottage.

There are a tough few weeks coming up with so many key absentees, but if the Reds can regain some rhythm with a similar side against Bournemouth, there should be no excuses against Fulham.

The opposition could well score again, but I’d back Liverpool to go through comfortably, especially with the hosts potentially leaving space to exploit as they push for a required goal.

COURTNEY: I hope we go through, but I don’t want to jinx it by saying yes we will!

I genuinely think we’ll play a better game away from home. On Wednesday, the atmosphere at Anfield wasn’t great until Curtis scored, from my seat in the lower Main Stand anyway.

I even got a few looks for singing along and shouting.

You could see how the crowd lifted the team after that and I think, with the away fans’ great support lately, the team with be feeding off that and you’ll see a better performance than at home.