‘As long as we have 11 players, we will go for it’ – Klopp

22 February 2024 0 By Total Football News

Manager Jurgen Klopp believes Chelsea are “definitely” favourites for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final but said a depleted Liverpool “will go for it”.

The Premier League leaders had nine senior players missing for Wednesday’s 4-1 win against Luton at Anfield.

Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah, Thiago, Dominik Szoboszlai, Joel Matip, Curtis Jones and Darwin Nunez were unavailable.

Liverpool face Chelsea in Sunday’s final at Wembley.

“We have to see [who will be fit for the final], but I said it before the game [against Luton] as long as we have 11 players we will go for it,” Klopp said.

“Will we be big favourites? Definitely not.

“Since we [last] played them [Chelsea], they have improved a lot and it will be tricky. This was exceptional tonight.”

Liverpool are four points clear at the top of the Premier League table

Klopp confirmed prior to the meeting with Luton that Jota faces “months” out with a knee injury, while Jones has a bone ligament injury and Alisson is sidelined with a muscle issue.

Alexander-Arnold, Szoboszlai and Thiago are long-term injuries but Klopp has remained coy on the availability of Salah and Nunez for Sunday.

Nunez went off at half-time in the win at Brentford on Saturday and Salah came off the bench to score, returning from an injury sustained on duty for Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations, but was then left out of the matchday squad against Luton.

Youngsters step up

Jayden Danns, 18 in action for Liverpool against Luton in the Premier LeagueJayden Danns, 18, came on as a substitute to make his senior debut for Liverpool against Luton

In the absence of regular starts for the visit of Luton, Klopp had to trust in the depth of his squad as they attempted to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League.

Klopp fielded a starting line-up with an average of age of 25 years and 68 days – the club’s youngest since February 2018 – while Liverpool’s bench had five players aged 19 or under, with 16-year-old midfielder Trey Nyoni among the substitutes.

Eighteen-year-old Jayden Danns, the son of former Crystal Palace midfielder Neil, made his senior debut from the bench in the 89th minute and had a hand in Liverpool’s fourth goal as his threaded ball eventually fell to Harvey Elliott.

“Then kids came on and did an incredible job. It is cool how culture educated the next generation,” Klopp said.

“It’s not obviously perfect. We said it before :How many games would have Jarell Quansah played if Joel Matip wasn’t injured?

“Quansah has stepped up. Same with Conor [Bradley] and Bobby [Clark], James McConnell. Massive improvement in our young boys.”

Elliott brings up century in style

Harvey Elliott celebrates scoring a goalHarvey Elliott has scored two goals in the Premier League this season

It proved to be a special night for 20-year-old Elliott, making his 100th Liverpool appearance, as his 90th-minute goal was their 100th across all competitions this season.

The midfielder, who joined the Reds from Fulham aged 16, carried himself as one of the more senior players against Luton and was essential in helping his side to pull four points clear at the top of the table.

He attempted five shots during the game, his highest total in a single match in the Premier League, while he created more chances (seven) and had more touches in the opposition box (17) than anyone else on the pitch.

Elliott, who topped the charts for passes in the final third (27), has bettered last season’s tally of one goal in the Premier League, scoring twice in 22 appearances this campaign.

Liverpool's 19-year-old midfielder Bobby Clark in action against LutonBobby Clark, 19, came on against Luton as a replacement for Ryan Gravenberch

Liverpool believing…

In what is Klopp’s final season in charge, Liverpool remain in contention for four trophies as they look to add to the six they have collected since he arrived in 2015.

Their determination is clear – they have recovered 22 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season, more than any other side.

“The boys did exceptionally well – [it was] one of the best [games] I have seen us play and I enjoyed it very much,” Klopp said.

“It is all about the boys. They gave themselves a chance. Nobody needed that lesson tonight but if our crowd believes, this club is able to do special things.”

A key factor of the season has been Liverpool’s ability to share their goals around – they are the first club in Europe’s biggest five leagues to have five players scoring 10 or more goals across all competitions – Salah (19), Jota (14), Nunez (13), Cody Gakpo (11) and Luis Diaz (10).

Klopp might not be able to call on all of those this weekend but Gakpo and Diaz, both on the scoresheet against Luton, could have a part to play.