In less than 4 months in charge of his new club, Jurgen Klopp has booked himself a ticket to Wembley with a nerve tangling penalty shoot-out victory over Stoke City in the second leg of the League Cup semi- final on Tuesday. A controversial goal from Arnautovic who was clearly in an offside position took the game to extra time and beyond as the Reds knocked the Potters out 6-5 in penalties.
Here are 5 things we learnt as Liverpool booked a place in the Capital One Cup Final next month:
1. A leg too many for the League Cup semi-final:
The Capital One Cup’s major role is to give the lesser known teams in the nation a chance to play against the big guns in the top flight adding some revenues to the board but gone are those days when two legged games gave enough financial support for both clubs involved. Though Anfield was roaring at its fullest voice on the night against Stoke, the game showed a lack of spirit not only in the first half but almost till the end. It may still help the lower tier franchises to get some revenues but it might just be time to get rid of the two legged semi-final as clubs can now make do with one.
2. Kolo and Sakho not really working:
Both center halves of the home side looked shaky at the best and were regularly caught out making simple mistakes defensively. Stoke looked like getting in on goal with every long ball played towards Liverpool’s back four as Toure and Sakho found it really hard to maintain any kind of organization at the back. It is to be said that the pair is not the preferred combination at the back for Jurgen Klopp but Liverpool could have easily paid the price by losing out on a berth in Wembley. They need Lovren who was back on the bench and Skrtel who is out for a month back in the squad to instill some confidence at the back for the rest of the season.
3. Simon Mignolet looked impeccable:
Apart from Arnautovic’s offside goal, Mignolet let nothing near his goal as he, for the first time this season looked comfortable coming off his line for air balls, punching them out with confidence unheard of from the Belgian. He turned out to be the hero saving two penalty kicks in the shoot-out and showed everyone why Klopp wants him at Anfield for another 5 years. Though fans will still moan about him being first choice, he showed great promise on the night and if can keep it up will solve some of the defensive problems persistent in the Reds camp at the moment.
4. Mark Hughes has done wonders at Britannia:
Though the Potters lost their shot at silverware this season, they have transitioned from being long-ball merchants to a team that has their own identity. The likes of Arnautovic, Shaqiri, Bojan and Walters are all capable of playing some crisp football and will surely give Hughes plenty of great chances in the seasons to come. The League position will give them plenty of hope as the manager will now shift his focus towards a finish in European spots. Surely Stoke City will achieve bigger things under Mark Hughes if the manager is able to keep up his good work at the Potteries.
5. Joe Allen deserves a regular place in the mid-field:
Liverpool looked lethargic and mediocre in the first half and though they turned up the heat in the second, it was not until Welsh international Joe Allen was bought on by Jurgen Klopp. Allen who is high on confidence with 2 goals in the last 2 weeks looked like making things happen as soon as he came on and also took the crucial penalty that sent Liverpool to Wembley. Klopp after the game was full of praise for the mid-fielder but it is not clear as to what the 25 year old needs to do to get a regular place in the starting XI. Klopp might feel he is not up to the mark but at the moment, he looks to be the most creative player at Anfield and seriously needs some game time under his belt now more than any other time.