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Formation, atmosphere & Arsenal changes – Last word on Liverpool 5-1 West Ham

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Liverpool looked sharp as they breezed into the last four of the League Cup with a comfortable 5-1 victory over West Ham, giving fans a renewed sense of confidence heading into a crucial set of games.

The Reds took another step towards Wembley by hitting five at a windy Anfield, with a mixture of youth and experience across the pitch against David Moyes’ side.

Curtis Jones took the plaudits for two well-taken goals, while Dominik Szoboszlai, Cody Gakpo and Mohamed Salah also got on the scoresheet as Liverpool convincingly took care of business.

Adam Beattie (@beatts94) and Dom Clarke (@DomTREP) are here to unpick the game, the next steps and the manager’s post-match comments.

 

A stress-free night for the Reds! How are you fancying our chances of going all the way again in the League Cup?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 20, 2023: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez applauds the supporters after the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 5-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DOM: If you look at the teams left, you have to consider the Reds to be strong favourites to go all the way.

I would have liked to have played Chelsea over the two legs personally, because we all know how a one-off game goes with Chelsea lately (Zzzz).

ADAM: It has definitely opened up nicely for us with most of the big hitters falling by the wayside.

Over two legs you’d have to fancy us to get the job done over Fulham, even if it was a bit chaotic against them last time.

I’m just relieved Everton went out, to be honest!

 

Which players stood out for you?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 20, 2023: Liverpool's Curtis Jones (L) celebrates with team-mate Harvey Elliott after scoring the second goal, the club's 500th in the competition. during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DOM: Harvey Elliott has been really impressive this season and deserved his place in the side from the start last night, boy did he deliver!

This is also the Jones we have all been waiting for! He’s been in great form this season and last night showed all the doubters exactly what he can bring to the side.

Kostas Tsimikas has come under scrutiny several times in the past – myself included – and I was dreading Robbo being out.

Still, he’s slotted in perfectly and put in some fantastic performances along the way. Last night epitomised his recent form, he’s given Jurgen a real headache!

ADAM: Elliott was superb again, proving he’s not just an impact substitute but someone who can make a real difference from the start as well.

I’d like to see him given a run of games and the festive period might just provide him with an opening for that, as will AFCON, because he showed last night he is a more than viable option on that right-hand side in Mohamed Salah‘s absence.

 

What did you make of the shape and do you think it could work for us going forward?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 20, 2023: Liverpool's Dominik Szoboszlai during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ADAM: The best compliment I can give is that we looked more purposeful with the ball and you could see what a Liverpool goal was going to look like, something which was missing slightly at the weekend.

Wataru Endo has really come into his own in the last few weeks to give us some stability in the middle and we looked a lot more threatening from wide areas on Wednesday night.

We’ve got plenty that still needs ironing out, but it was good to get the injection of positivity after the doom and gloom that followed Man United.

DOM: I think we looked more balanced last night, not only with Curtis but also Joe Gomez, who looks back to his best in Red.

The players seemed to understand and feel more comfortable in their roles. I do think the time has come to decide what Trent Alexander Arnold’s best position is in the side for the benefit of the team going forward.

 

Do you think the manager was right to question the atmosphere?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 20, 2023: Players line-up before the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

ADAM: He is absolutely within his rights to call us out because he knows the impact the crowd can have, but the club haven’t done us many favours in that regard in recent years.

I’d personally like to talk him through the process of giving a ticket to somebody else – because that isn’t as straightforward as he might think!

Hospitality and touted tickets aren’t normally conducive to a big atmosphere, but equally, there are still plenty of us capable of making a difference and hopefully we can show that on Saturday.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 20, 2023: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DOM: At first, I was a little taken aback by Jurgen’s comments. The United atmosphere wasn’t great, let’s be honest, and his words seemed to be more about that than West Ham, as that was a really good atmosphere.

After digesting his interview and watching it back, this feels like he knows exactly what he’s doing ahead of Arsenal, a HUGE game under the floodlights and the chance to be top at Christmas. I think it was more mind games than anything.

 

Finally, how many of those that started do you want to see against Arsenal?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 20, 2023: Liverpool's Curtis Jones (L) celebrates with team-mate captain Virgil van Dijk after scoring the second goal, the club's 500th in the competition. during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

DOM: This is a good question, a tough one too. My 11 would be: Alisson; Trent, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Endo, Szoboszlai, Jones; Salah, Gakpo, Nunez.

I’d personally like to see Trent in the middle, behind the two, as Gomez has brought stability to the right-hand side which we’ve definitely missed, but I just can’t see it happening.

Harvey has an argument to start, but let’s be honest, Mo starts after being rested last night. Quansah is in with a shout, but I think the intensity and what’s on the line, we have to use experience in this game.

INTO THESE REDS!

ADAM: I’d be inclined to keep that midfield the same, then from there it’s probably just a case of bringing Alisson, Trent, Konate and possibly Diaz back in, depending on how he wants it to look.

Arsenal will have had the benefit of a week’s rest, so getting the balance of fresh legs and momentum from a big win will be the key to getting the business done on Saturday.

It is a huge one, I cannot wait.