Player Ratings: Klopp and the Captain Lead the Reds to Victory

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Liverpool 1 – 0 (aet) Chelsea EFL Cup Final Player Ratings

The first piece of silverware of the season was presented to the winner of the English League Cup, which was contested by two heavyweights of the game. The game was incredible, the extra time enthralling. Legends are created by footballing occasions, and young men today showed what it takes to become one.

Caoimhin Kelleher – 9.0

The 25-year-old Irishman is currently the starting keeper for the Reds, as Alisson Becker continues his recovery from injury. The backup made a confident start with a huge punched clearance from an early corner kick. A magnificent and reactive save halted Chelsea taking the lead on twenty minutes, as the deputy sprawled to deny Jackson from close range. The second half was about being alert and steady, as the game progressed on a knife edge. The latter stages of the game produced a brilliant one-on-one save, as the young stopper smothered a brilliant goal-scoring opportunity for Chelsea. Resolute and reliable.

Andy Robertson – 7.0

The Scotland international captain came back into the side for the superb Joe Gomez, after an impressive return from injury. The former Hull man was a little lacking positionally at times early on, as his side looked to take territorial advantage. The 29-year-old was steady and reliable for much of the remainder of the half, as he stayed a constant option going forward. His attacking intent reduced as the second half progressed, as the game became an open affair of who wanted it more.

Subbed – 87 mins

Conor Bradley – 7.0

The young Northern Irishman was electric against the Blues just last month; therefore, his starting place was well deserved. The tenacious nature and desire were clear from minute one, as the 20-year continued to drive forward and defend with vigour. The injury to Ryan Gravenberch meant he moved up into a right-wing role, as the injury nightmare continued to grow. The enthusiasm did not diminish, yet the lack of positional know-how was evident in the second half.

Subbed – 72 mins

Ibrahima Konaté – 8.0

The France international defender came back into the first team elite, with silverware up for grabs and the need for excellence on the pitch. A series of strong challenges summarised his early contributions, as he and his skipper looked to cut the pitch in half. The second half was a battle across the huge pitch, as the former Leipzig man took the battle to anyone that came his way.

Subbed – 106 mins

Virgil van Dijk – 9.0

The captain and leader of this team, his continuing form and availability are making the impossible that bit more likely. A confident and commanding start was built upon the captain’s demands, as the Reds camped in the Chelsea half. The latter period of the half required far more defensive discipline, until the oncoming Joe Gomez took time to settle. The Dutch skipper was desperately unlucky not to open the scoring in the second half, as VAR overruled a good goal. His leadership and presence were vital in a very nervy second half. The extra time and winning goal were fitting for a man that is pure world-class.

Man of the Match

Ryan Gravenberch – 5.0

The former Bayern Munich midfielder kept his starting role, in the wake of multiple middle-ground injuries. An unfortunate injury halted his final as he was stretchered from the pitch.

Subbed – 26 mins

Alexis Mac Allister – 8.0

The Argentina World Cup winner has been in elite-level form of late, as the most important midfielder in the Anfield ranks. The former Brighton man was the controlling entity from the outset, as he and his Japanese teammate took control of the middle ground. The unfortunate injury to Ryan Gravenberch caused a pattern of play stutter, as the changes took time to adjust. All his contributions were a benefit to his team as he gave everything until he left the pitch.

Subbed – 87 mins

Wataru Endo – 8.0

The Japan captain is starting to look like the perfect blunt instrument, especially within such a gathering of talented individuals. The former Bundesliga enforcer was tenacious and efficient from the opening bell, with disruption coming only due to the injury to Ryan Gravenberch. Never stopped running and gave everything for the entirety of the match.

Luis Díaz – 7.0

The Colombian flyer is in better form this calendar year; therefore, the huge Wembley pitch demanded his bespoke style of wing play. The former Porto man was guilty of hanging onto the ball early on and some indecision in possession, as the Reds swarmed the Chelsea backline. The wiry winger was tasked with so much offensive possession, yet struggled to break through with the goal or assist in a frustrating opening 45-minutes. Was much the same for the second period, as he worked tirelessly without getting to where he needed to be.

Cody Gakpo – 6.0

The Dutch forward started through the middle, with both Darwin Núñez and Diogo Jota both injured for the final. The 6ft 4inch forward struggled to get into the game in the initial exchanges, as he looked lost positionally unsure through the opening stages. The versatile attacker was unlucky just before half-time as his headed effort hit the post and slipped away from goal. Had a tough second period, that saw his energy drain away.

Subbed – 87 mins

Harvey Elliott – 7.0

The young live-wire kept his place in the starting eleven given the unfortunate timing of Mohamed Salah’s hamstring injury. The former Fulham playmaker was moved into the central midfield area after the Gravenberch injury, as the Reds ran out of viable options from within. Was effective and combative as the game state took time to settle once more. Kept working and working throughout the remainder of the contest, as he charged about with an intent to earn his medal.

Subs:

Joe Gomez – 8.0 (on 26)

Came on to replace the injured Gravenberch. His move into right-back solidified the entire flank, as he and Conor Bradley offered energy and speed in the latter stages of the first half. Was strong and vital at times.

Bobby Clark – 8.0 (on 72)

Came on to offer some more urgency in the middle, with a great display of midfield prowess.

James McConnell – 7.0 (on 87 mins)

Came on to offer energy and protection.

Jayden Danns – 8.0 (on 87)

Came on to offer pace and brilliance.

Kostas Tsimikas – 7.0 (on 87)

Came on to assist the winning goal.

Jarell Quansah – 7.0 (on 106)

Came on to add assurance and defensive power.

The Manager:

Jürgen Klopp – 10.0

The German manager had to pick the team amidst eleven injuries to his ravaged squad, which of course had discontent echoing from the worried fanbase before kick-off.

The first action for the head coach was an early call, as the initial substitution came on the 26th minute due to an injury to Ryan Gravenberch, creating a twelfth absentee. The on-pitch reshuffle meant that Conor Bradley moved to the right wing and Joe Gomez into fullback, as options became sparse. The right-hand switch of personnel also meant that Harvey Elliott became the third central midfielder. The reshuffle in the middle of the half saw some time ensue to settle the new system of play, before the latter stages allowed control to resume.

It would be the latter substitutions which defined the game and the performance of such brilliant young assets. His leader rose the highest to win the final, yet around him, there was the emergence of those that may define Liverpool v2.0.

Pre-match Prediction:

Liverpool 2 – 1 Chelsea

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