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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 20, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates with two-goal hero Curtis Jones (L) after the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 5-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jones excels as Klopp’s changes work again – 5 talking points from Liverpool 2-1 Fulham

Liverpool came back from behind to put in an impressive performance following some changes by the manager, with a 2-1 fightback at home to Fulham.

Liverpool 2-1 Fulham

Carabao Cup Semi-Final First Leg, Anfield
January 10, 2024

Goals: Jones 68′, Gakpo 71′; Willian 19′


Klopp changes work again

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)

Jurgen Klopp‘s game management has been second to none of late, and that proved to be the case again against Fulham.

Liverpool were dominating possession but looked lackadaisical at times, struggling to break down Fulham‘s block after they took an early lead.

Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo entered the fray just before the hour mark, and both goals were scored not long after.

The two substitutes even combined for the second, after nice work from Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota in the buildup.

The could have had another linkup when Nunez headed Gakpo’s cross, forcing a great save from Bernd Leno.

Klopp’s second-half switches and a move to 4-2-3-1 led to a more urgent Liverpool attack, and it’s encouraging that even with an injury-hit squad the manager still has the tools to change games from the bench.

 

Fulham can’t keep up with Jones

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 10, 2024: Liverpool's Curtis Jones (L) celebrates with team-mate Alexis Mac Allister (R) after scoring the first equalising goal during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

If you think of the English midfielders who are considered among the best in the Premier League at the moment, it’s baffling that Jones has no senior international caps.

He’s up there with the best of them and is much more versatile than most.

While Ryan Gravenberch struggled and Alexis Mac Allister made plenty of work for himself – albeit doing most of it well – Jones always looked comfortable yet still hardworking.

He opened the scoring for Liverpool, levelling when his shot deflected off Tosin Adarabioyo, and then played a part in the second, too, starting off the attacking, forward-thinking part of the move.

He finished the game with a pass success of 98 percent, completing 47 out of 48 attempted passes.

 

Gravenberch in the Henderson role

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

The Dutchman has played mostly on the left of midfield since arriving at the club this season, operating in a fairly attacking No. 8 role.

This time he lined up in a similar position to that which Jordan Henderson used to occasionally play, joining in with buildup play when deep, before ending up really wide on the right in some moments.

The return to such a dynamic was no doubt influenced by Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s absence, with a more orthodox right back in Conor Bradley, even though he would still cut inside in attacking areas.

Unfortunately, Gravenberch on this occasion was a bit too much like the version of Henderson we saw in his latter seasons at Liverpool, and was fairly ineffective before being subbed off.

 

Joao Palhinha’s Liverpool audition?

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

One of the players Liverpool have regularly been linked with to fill a place in the squad in the defensive midfield position is Fulham‘s Joao Palhinha.

Though rumours of a January transfer were wide of the mark, the club will get a good, first-hand look at their potential transfer across the two legs of this semi-final.

Apart from one occasion when he was robbed by Mac Allister in midfield leading to a good chance for Jota, Palhinha was good positionally and on hand to pick up pieces in front of the back four.

While they’re watching Palhinha, Liverpool may have noticed another who would fit at the club is the left-back Antonee Robinson, if they wanted a refresh in that area.

 

Squad test

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 10, 2024: Liverpool's Cody Gakpo (2nd from R) celebrates with team-mates 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)

Liverpool’s squad continues to be stretched due to participation in every competition, and their involvement in this Carabao Cup means there won’t be much of a winter break.

Any squad would be stretched with the number of players Liverpool currently have out of action, with February the earliest most will be back.

The club’s academy has provided valuable backup during this time, but beyond Nunez and Gakpo who entered before the hour mark, there was no further senior presence on the bench.

Harvey Elliott was likely taken off in preparation for the trip to Bournemouth on Sunday, before travelling down south again for the second leg of this tie against Fulham.