Ian Rush Emulated in Liverpool’s Carabao Cup Triumph

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Night to Remember as Reds Down Chelsea at Wembley

When Virgil van Dijk’s header thumped into the back of the net against Chelsea on Sunday night, Liverpool had three players on the pitch who hadn’t started a Premier League game for Jurgen Klopp’s side yet. There was another who started just four this season in Harvey Elliott, and another two more who had started five in Jarell Quansah and Caoimhin Kelleher.

On paper, Liverpool had no right to beat Chelsea in front of ninety thousand supporters at Wembley. Jurgen Klopp’s side ‘lacked’ experience. They were without a myriad of key players. Yet none of that mattered. The Reds still prevailed and made this one of the most memorable finals in the Jurgen Klopp era, racking up impressive stats in the process.

Photo: IMAGO

Caoimhin Kelleher – Alisson 2.0

This was another appearance at Wembley for Caoimhin Kelleher, and another final victory where the Irishman was one of the protagonists for Liverpool. This time Kelleher didn’t have to wait until the penalty shoot-out to become the hero. He did it while on the pitch.

Kelleher faced an xG of 2.28, and nine shots on target. He saved all nine, including six shots that were from inside the box. Several of those shots looked almost certain to go in for Chelsea. But Kelleher in true ‘Alisson fashion’ came to the rescue.

The Irishman also completed 37 passes and made 15 total recoveries. Once again proving that he is known as the ‘best second choice goalkeeper in the world’ for a reason.

Photo: IMAGO

The Defence

Liverpool’s victory wasn’t just thanks to Kelleher. Between Van Dijk, Konate and Quansah Liverpool’s centre-backs won 15 duels out of 23 contested ones. Van Dijk as well as being a threat in the opposition’s penalty area was also crucial in dictating the rhythm of the play for Liverpool. The club captain completed the most passes on the pitch (92) and had a pass accuracy of 91%.

There were some shaky moments, and there is no denying that the 15 shots Liverpool allowed Chelsea to take inside their own penalty area is quite a high number (even with 120 minutes played). However, given the circumstances and the players on the pitch this was still a valiant and stellar effort by Liverpool’s centre-backs.

Midfield Maestros

Both Wataru Endo and Alexis Mac Allister deserve special praise for their contributions. After all the crazy antics that happened in the summer between Chelsea and Liverpool in the transfer market, the duo quietly proved a point on Sunday.

Endo was superb all game. He played the whole 120 minutes and even when he was getting tired towards the end put his heart and soul on the line for Liverpool. Unsurprisingly, the Japanese international won the most duels (12) on the pitch and made the joint most recoveries (12) alongside Chelsea’s Moises Caicedo. On top of that Endo also won the most tackles (4) for Liverpool and was also fouled (4) the most times for Liverpool.

Photo: IMAGO

He also became only the third Asian player (and the first Japanese) to start a League Cup final in the 21st century and go on to lift the trophy.

Endo’s starting midfield partner Alexis Mac Allister more than showed enough as well. Mac Allister created the most chances (3) while he was on the pitch and he won the most duels as well winning 10 out of his 15 duels. He also won the joint most tackles for Liverpool (4) alongside Endo, despite not even playing the full ninety minutes. It was a proper box to box performance from Mac Allister, who has been one of Liverpool’s best players in the past few weeks.

There is no denying the pair of them absolutely outshone both Caicedo and Enzo Fernandes on the opposing end of the pitch.

The Attack

Luis Diaz although not getting his goal went quietly under the radar. The Colombian seems to love to run up and down the wide Wembley pitch. He thrived in the last Carabao Cup final against Chelsea and produced another strong showing.

Diaz completed the most dribbles (5) on the pitch, created the most chances (4) and also took five shots which was the most for Liverpool on the night. Sure he also lost possession the most times (3) and lost the most duels (11) as well – but that’s part and parcel of a winger like Diaz’s game who is always having to make risky decisions for the big pay off.

Photo: IMAGO

On the other side, Harvey Elliott was again everywhere. He is one of the few players who played the full ninety minutes against Luton midweek and the full 120 minutes at Wembley. Yet, Elliott still made 10 recoveries, which was the second most for Liverpool. He also won six out of his 10 duels and accumulated an expected shots on target of 0.85 from his two shots that hit the target. He was certainly very unlucky to score, and it was another really strong performance by the 20-year-old. Impressively, this Carabao Cup was Elliott’s seventh major trophy as a Liverpool player and the first major final that he started.

The Youngsters

Above all, what made this final so special for Liverpool was the contribution from the club’s youngsters.

Conor Bradley started the game, and looked the sharpest player on the pitch until Ryan Gravenberch’s injury. Bradley then ended-up having to play almost 45 minutes as a right-winger. Still his efforts were commendable winning six out of his 11 duels, and two of his three attempted tackles.

Then there were the three substitutes in the 87th minute. Bobby Clark with just eight first team appearances was the most experienced out of the trio. McConnell the second with six, and Danns had just one prior appearance. As per Opta’s Michael Reid, Danns became only the second Liverpool player to make one of his first two senior appearances in a major cup final for the club – the first was Ian Rush in 1981 making his second appearance for Liverpool in the League Cup final as well.

Photo: IMAGO

It’s hard to choose who provided the best performance out of Liverpool’s academy trio. But if one had to pick, it’s impossible to look past McConnell. Incredibly, this was his first appearance in the League Cup for Liverpool. Yet during extra-time, McConnell didn’t just not look out of place, but even looked comfortable. He created three chances during the 34 minutes he spent on the pitch. He also took 47 touches, completed 34 passes, made two clearances and won two duels out of six. His best moment though was probably the yellow card he picked up when he thwarted a Chelsea counter attack – which showed maturity beyond his years.

Danns and Clark though had their moments as well. The former was unlucky not to score meanwhile the latter competed in 12 duels winning four, while making six recoveries and winning two out of his two attempted tackles.

Bright Future

This was Liverpool’s 10th triumph in the League Cup in the club’s history. It was also the eighth major trophy won under Jurgen Klopp¬† – and the first major trophy that Klopp has now won twice at Liverpool.

Photo: IMAGO

There is of course opportunity for more silverware in the next few months ahead. Based on what transpired at Wembley on Sunday night, you would back Klopp’s men to succeed in that endeavour.

One thing is absolutely certain, the future is very bright. The numbers and the performance both proved that against Chelsea.

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