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Injuries, winter breaks & VAR – 10 key things to know ahead of Liverpool vs. Fulham


With pressure on Liverpool as favourites, the Reds host Fulham in the League Cup semi-finals. We have everything you need to know ahead of the first leg.

Liverpool vs. Fulham

League Cup (semi-final first leg) | Anfield
January 10, 2024 | 8pm (GMT)

Visions of a quadruple are starting to dance into Liverpool fans’ dreams.

If these thoughts are to grow, Liverpool need to follow up their impressive FA Cup win with a convincing performance at home against Fulham.

With Chelsea or Middlesbrough to play in the final, and Fulham never having won a major domestic trophy, the visitors will be massively up for the tie.


League Cup record-breakers

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 29, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (R) with first-team development coach Pepijn Lijnders (L) hold the two trophies during a parade around the city after the club won the Cup Double, the FA Cup abd Football League Cup. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This will be Liverpool’s 19th appearance at the semi-final stage of the competition, from 58 entries. That means the Reds have reached the last four almost one in every three attempts.

From their 18 semi-final appearances before 2024, Liverpool have progressed 13 times and gone on to win the trophy a record nine times, once more than Man City.

The last time Jurgen Klopp‘s team reached this stage, Diogo Jota sunk Arsenal at the Emirates, and Liverpool beat Chelsea in the final.

With Chelsea facing Middlesbrough in the other semi-final, could history be destined to repeat itself?


No Alexander-Arnold

Unfortunately, Pep Lijnders had to reveal that Trent Alexander-Arnold is set for “probably” three weeks out with a knee injury.

Thankfully, Liverpool have their ‘winter break’ during that period, but he will likely still miss five matches – see which ones here.

With Joe Gomez being used at left-back, covering for the injured duo of Kostas Tsimikas and Andy Robertson, Conor Bradley will likely start the biggest game of his young career on the right side of defence.

Lijnders insisted that Bradley and Bobby Clark are “not back-up players, they are part of our squad.”


On the positive side…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 23, 2023: Liverpool's captain Virgil van Dijk during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Virgil van Dijk is “good to go,” according to the assistant manager, and we think he will probably start next to either Ibrahima Konate or Jarell Quansah.

Dominik Szoboszlai is “not available” for the first leg, however. The midfield will, therefore, likely consist of Alexis Mac Allister, Curtis Jones and Ryan Gravenberch.

That leaves Harvey Elliott, Luis Diaz, Cody Gakpo, Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez competing for three attacking positions.

Predicted Liverpool XI: Kelleher; Bradley, Konate, Van Dijk, Gomez; Mac Allister, Gravenberch, Jones; Elliott, Jota, Diaz

READ HERE: Liverpool lineup vs. Fulham – 1 guaranteed starter and Elliott or Diaz?


Old reunions

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 3, 2023: Fulham's Harry Wilson during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-3. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Something that came slightly out of the blue in Lijnders’ press conference was him revealing that he worked with Andreas Pereira as a child.

Since signing from Man United, the Belgian has been one of Fulham‘s brightest attacking players.

Liverpool’s assistant manager explained: “He was my player when he was nine years old at PSV Eindhoven – unbelievable that we play against him now, so much creativity.”

Former Liverpool prospect Harry Wilson is also doing well for the Cottagers. Lijnders commented: “Harry, of course, we know really well, who has goal threat, can shoot from anywhere, great personality. We really like him.”


Fulham are inconsistent but dangerous

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 7, 2022: Fulham's head coach Marco Silva during the Football League Championship match between Sheffield United FC and Fulham FC at Bramall Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

To reach this stage of the competition, Fulham have had to rely on spot-kicks. They beat Tottenham on penalties in the second round, before knocking out Norwich and Ipswich.

Their quarter-final also went the distance, beating Everton 7-6 on penalties at Goodison Park. Meanwhile, in the Premier League, Fulham have been enjoying a relatively successful campaign.

Marco Silva’s team lie 13th in the table, but have had some standout results with consecutive 5-0 wins over West Ham and Nottingham Forest.

Inconsistency has been a problem, though, following those brilliant wins up with three defeats in a row before beating Arsenal.


Gaps between games

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 24, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp smiles during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Cup 4th Round match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s win over Arsenal will have pleased Klopp in more ways than one. As well as progressing to the FA Cup fourth round, they will now avoid a replay next week.

This means they will have a somewhat longer ‘winter break’, although the first leg does eat into that. After Wednesday’s fixture, Liverpool won’t play for 11 days.

Fulham, however, face a quicker turnaround as they face rivals Chelsea at 12.30pm on Saturday. It is only fair we highlight it when other teams are given that fixture after a Wednesday match, too.


Kelleher confirmed

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 3, 2023: Liverpool's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While we can only predict the rest of the team, albeit with some certainty, we can confirm Caoimhin Kelleher will play in goal.

He has played in each of this season’s three League Cup matches to date, and Lijnders told Liverpoolfc.com on Tuesday: “Caoimh is our No.1 for this competition, so he will start tomorrow.

“We come from a crazy schedule in December, so we really have to see who’s ready, who can go and who is fit to go. We are really happy that we play a semi-final in January, we wanted this. So we go full in.”



There will be no video assistant referee in place for either of the League Cup semi-finals.

This was originally not intended to be the case, but with Middlesbrough reaching this stage and not having the technology installed at the Riverside, that has changed things.

To keep things fair in the EFL’s opinion, neither leg of any semi-final tie will use VAR, though it will be in place at Wembley for the final.


Another ref who isn’t exactly liked at Liverpool!

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, December 30, 2023: Referee David Coote shows a yellow card during the FA Premier League match between Manchester City FC and Sheffield United FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. Man City won 2-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

David Coote has been appointed referee for the Anfield clash, with Timothy Wood and Wade Smith acting as his assistants.

Coote’s name will be familiar to Liverpool supporters as he was the VAR who failed to award a penalty after Martin Odegaard’s blatant handball during the Reds’ match against Arsenal on December 23.

The fourth official at Anfield will be Tim Robinson.


Follow the match with TIA

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, January 1, 2024: A general view before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Newcastle United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool vs. Fulham is live on Sky Sports Football with kickoff at 8pm (GMT).

TIA’s matchday live blog will be up and running from 7.15pm, with Henry Jackson tasked with keeping you entertained and up-to-date.

Come on you Reds!