Fulham 1-1 Liverpool (agg: 2-3)
Carabao Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg, Craven Cottage
January 24, 2024
Goals: Diop 76′; Diaz 11′
Reds firmly over away day blues
There were many supporters hugely concerned when Liverpool kicked off this season with just four wins from their first 10 away games.
And they were not being entirely unreasonable given that it indicated a long-term trend, with the previous campaign having brought just nine victories from 26 fixtures on the road.
Fortunately, Jurgen Klopp‘s side seem to have finally got over their struggles away from Anfield, a claim supported by the manner in which they got through this potentially tricky trip to Craven Cottage.
They have now won five of their last seven away games (with a draw here effectively a win), leaving the only blot on their copybook as a meaningless but narrow loss for a much-changed team at Union SG.
With their home form always reliable, this is a change that bodes incredibly well for their trophy hopes this term.
Quansah trust no longer in doubt
There can be no stronger evidence that Jarell Quansah is viewed as a genuine long-term option by Klopp than his use in games like this.
Yes, the German is keen to protect Ibrahima Konate from the muscle injuries he tends to pick up, but he would rather take the risk than go with a player he does not truly trust.
And the fact is Quansah continues to justify his selection, putting in performances of a maturity way beyond his 20 years.
In a game that saw Fulham make it nervy late on, the defender stood firm, clocking up seven clearances, seven recoveries and, of course, an assist.
No wonder the manager is ready to throw him in.
Gravenberch takes another step forward
But there is always a risk involved in using the Dutchman given that the start of his Liverpool career has been defined by inconsistency – you often do not know what you are going to get.
However, he put on a steady if unspectacular performance, which represented a welcome change from the highs and lows he can occasionally offer across a single game.
Gravenberch completed 89 percent of his passes, won five out of eight duels, and posted six recoveries and five interceptions across the 90 minutes.
These are exactly the sort of solid numbers Klopp likes from his midfielders, and will do the youngster’s chances of earning further starts the world of good.
Klopp extends incredible semi record
Were any Liverpool fan worried about not possessing a clear enough aggregate lead coming into this second leg, their nerves would surely have been eased by a look at Klopp’s record in semi-finals for this club.
Thanks to success here, it now shows a ridiculous nine victories from a total of 10 last-four ties across a range of different competitions.
The only exception came in 2016/17, when Southampton earned victory over a Reds team that was still on the journey to becoming a winning machine.
Of course, nobody remembers the losing finalists, and so getting through a semi is just half the job.
But you don’t half increase your chances of lifting silverware when you are so consistently good at this stage of a competition.
Things can only get better
With this semi-final tie effectively wrapped up the moment Luis Diaz grabbed his early goal, the most significant aspect of Liverpool’s evening was arguably the sight of Andy Robertson warming up on the touchline.
Make no mistake, the Reds have coped remarkably well with an increasingly lengthy list of absentees over the last couple of months.
But they could do without having to keep coming through such tests and getting some key men back in the fold as soon as possible.
It could be that they are eased back in as early as Sunday, at home to Norwich.
• READ MORE: Liverpool player ratings vs. Fulham