Reds Bow Out of Carabao Cup
As predicted in the preview, Jurgen Klopp and Maurizio Sarri elected to rotate their squads. Both sides produced a few decent chances in the first half, but it wasn’t until the second that the game truly came to life.
Daniel Sturridge pounced on a rebound to score with an overhead kick, putting the hosts in front. But a sloppy set-piece goal from Emerson followed by an incredible goal by Eden Hazard sealed what was ultimately a fair result on the day.
Simon Mignolet – 7:
Mignolet made a few strong saves throughout the game to keep his side in it, including one from point-blank range to deny Alvaro Morata in the first half.
He couldn’t do anything about Hazard’s powerful and precise finish, and did well to save the initial header which led to the equaliser.
Nathaniel Clyne – 6:
Clyne did relatively well on his first competitive start for what feels like an age considering he had to contend with Willian while maintaining his own duties as an attacking fullback.
A good ball over the top for Sturridge was the highlight of his day, but he clearly didn’t do enough to displace Trent Alexander-Arnold from the starting lineup.
Joel Matip – 6.5:
The big Cameroonian wasn’t quite as good this time out but he still put in a decent shift. Although, he could’ve been more authoritative for the set-piece goal.
Matip and Dejan Lovren probably shouldn’t play together as they need one of Joe Gomez or Virgil van Dijk beside them as a calming influence and to cover for their lack of pace.
Dejan Lovren – 5:
Lovren didn’t do himself any favours in trying to reestablish himself as a first-choice centre-back, although he will need time to shake off the rust.
Overall he had a poor game, allowing himself to be turned numerous times by a player struggling for confidence in Morata, and his positional sense was severely lacking throughout.
Alberto Moreno – 3:
Oh boy. Simply put, Andy Robertson is in no danger of losing his starting place. Moreno looked completely out of his depth against Victor Moses, whereas Robbo dealt with Kylian Mbappe with relative ease.
Left-back is possibly the only position where depth is still lacking. Moreno isn’t even good enough for our ‘B-Team’ anymore.
Fabinho – 6:
A six might even be a bit generous here. Fabinho was virtually absent for most of the half, but in fairness, he did gradually grow into the game.
Fans would be foolish to write him off already though as he will undoubtedly become a tremendous asset once he gets through this bedding-in process.
James Milner – 6.5:
Milner was visibly frustrated with his midfield partners at times, as he has become used to the fluidity of the first team and how most movements are second-nature.
Milly fatigued badly as the game went on. He’ll need to be rotated carefully in the coming busy period.
Naby Keita – 7:
Keita had a few sloppy moments throughout the game, but overall his influence was a positive one. His skills were on show, but like Fabinho, he needs more time to settle in.
He made space for himself in the midfield and tested his luck with a few shots on goal. Encouraging stuff from the new signing; you get the sense that a big performance and the confidence that comes with it will be the spark he needs to really get rolling.
Xherdan Shaqiri – (Man of the Match) 7.5:
Shaqiri was involved in almost every attacking play that Liverpool produced and should’ve had an assist after playing Sturridge through with a wonderful pass.
He had a few wild shots blaze high and wide, but that’s to be expected from a confident player who backs himself from distance when a passing option isn’t on.
Sadio Mane – 7:
Some might argue that Mane should’ve been rested, or at least substituted earlier. In any case, his movement was terrific as usual, and he did cause the Chelsea defence some real headaches on several occasions.
He probably should’ve scored when he headed a beautiful cross straight into the arms of Willy Caballero, but it wasn’t the easiest of chances.
Daniel Sturridge – 7:
What a strange day for Studge. First he missed a sitter, then he scored an overhead kick, and finally, he hit the crossbar.
On occasions, his touch was slightly off, but it was another solid game for him overall. He even showed some nous with his pressing in the second half.
Jordan Henderson – (on for Milner 58′) 5.5:
Hendo couldn’t influence the game as much as Milner had done previously. It’s questionable if this performance warrants a starting berth on the weekend.
Bobby Firmino – (on for Mane 71′) 6:
Bobby came on at the worst possible time as he tried in vain to battle against the turning tide.
Mo Salah – (on for Fabinho 89′) N/A:
Not enough time to make an impact.
Kamil Grabara, Joe Gomez, Curtis Jones, and Dominic Solanke.
Jurgen Klopp – 7:
Klopp rotated well, and he knew that throwing the kids to the lions was not the way to go given the strength of Chelsea’s lineup.
He rallied the troops in the second half to a seemingly positive effect but could do little about the individual errors which ultimately cost his side the win.
He used his substitutions at appropriate times, although it’s arguable that Mane should’ve been brought off sooner for preservation, and Salah could’ve come on straight after Hazard put the visitors in front.
Tough Result – We Go Again
On the balance of play, Chelsea probably deserved the win. However, Liverpool had plenty of chances themselves, and on another day the result could’ve been quite different.
That’s what Reds fans will be hoping for on the weekend when we play them again at Stamford Bridge. Klopp himself acknowledged the importance of the league fixture and how his side will take lessons into it.
“We left too many spaces open and stuff like that, [where] they could play between the lines, [but] we already had bigger chances. They were not really a big threat, I would say. More and more we got used to it.”
Negatives of Bowing Out
Aside from the most obvious negative being us only winning the treble this season, the biggest problem is that certain fringe players miss another chance to rack up precious minutes.
The likes of Keita, Fabinho, Shaqiri, and Sturridge would’ve benefited greatly from these extra games to allow them to integrate more quickly.
Likewise, with a potentially easier draw in the next round, Curtis Jones, Dominic Solanke, Nat Phillips, and Rafa Camacho could’ve been given an opportunity to shine.
Benefits of Bowing Out
The Carabao Cup is securely the fourth most important piece of silverware that was up for grabs this season, so missing out doesn’t sting too badly.
It means fewer midweek games to plan around, and fewer minutes stacked up by tired legs. All of our rivals, aside from Manchester United (thanks to Harry Wilson), have to play at least one more game than us, but only one can win it.
In some ways, this is the best time to go out. We didn’t embarrass ourselves by losing to a championship side with an inexperienced manager. We went out to a good team at the earliest possible chance. This is nowhere near as bad as playing several more games and being knocked out in the semis.