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Klopp’s “superb” management & the semi-final XI – Last word on Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool

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Liverpool remain in four competitions after their 2-0 FA Cup win over Arsenal, a nice problem for Jurgen Klopp to have after opting to name his strongest possible starting XI.

The manager did not shy away from the tough nature of the tie, and he named a lineup representative of that, even amid the long list of absentees that Virgil van Dijk was added to due to illness.

Nevertheless, Klopp managed his team superbly and, in the end, it was an own goal and a emphatic strike from Luis Diaz that ensured there was to be no replay but instead a place in the fourth round.

With Liverpool continuing to spin all four plates and with a semi-final to come on Wednesday, Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) and Matt Ladson (@mattladson) discuss Klopp’s influence, the XI against Fulham and more.

 

We must have a word about Klopp’s tweaks and changes – they were instrumental, weren’t they?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 7, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. Liverpool won 2-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

MATT: Absolutely superb. Jurgen’s managed and used his full squad expertly in recent weeks (even months really).

He seems to have changed his approach a lot this season, using more players from the bench, and making more influential tactical tweaks than previously – whether that’s due to player availability or not.

It’s funny though, because you can look at the half time changes and either commend them or question the original selections!

I found it very interesting that Gakpo started in midfield, ahead of Gravenberch, but this was seemingly to ensure Gravenberch could replace Mac Allister – who couldn’t play 90 minutes – on the hour.

I now expect Gravenberch to start on Fulham. It’s all superb squad use.

JO: Like you’ve said Matt, Klopp has utilised his squad game-to-game and within matches superbly of late, something we’ve been critical of in the past.

Switching Gakpo and Elliott’s positions at half-time needed to be done and we looked a lot better for it – the Dutchman has more of a natural desire to move forward and it left Alexis Mac Allister quite isolated.

As he has rotated effectively it allows the players coming off the bench to have more of an instant impact and we’re certainly seeing that, even from Jota who was injured not all that long ago.

 

We have to mention that 10 members of the matchday squad came through the academy, a real nod to the work at Kirkby and Klopp’s belief, isn’t it?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 7, 2024: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates their side's openimg goal during the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

MATT: Very much so. The faith shown in Bradley and Clark on 75 minutes would not only give those two players a huge confidence boost, but imagine watching that as a young academy player.

There are quite a few academy players who I’d expect to come through in the near future too. Maybe we get a full academy XI in a pre-season match this summer!

JO: I will be honest and admit that when I saw Bradley and Clark standing on the touchline, I was thinking Klopp’s decided to take matters in his own hands re. avoiding a replay.

Boy, was I wrong. Those two really backed each other up and were savvy when they needed to be.

There must be so much hope and belief throughout the academy seeing these lads feature plus watching the likes of Trent, Curtis and most recently Jarell Quansah carve out their careers at Anfield.

 

We’re still in 4 competitions, how do you view that within the bigger picture for the squad this season?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 7, 2024: Liverpool's Luis Díaz (3rd from R) celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. Liverpool won 2-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JO: Going into the match, it was a case of it being a bonus if we won and got through, but I wouldn’t have been overly upset had we not.

The more games and competitions we have the more it will test this squad, and perhaps some may look to the 2021/22 season and think the domestic cup wins took away a bit from increasing our league and Champions League hopes.

At the end of the day, this success is breeding confidence and conviction for what is a new squad, one that is bonding in the best set of circumstances. Long may it continue.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 7, 2024: Liverpool's Luis Díaz, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ibrahima Konaté celebrate their side's openimg goal during the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

MATT: It’s a tough one as, like Jo, I personally wouldn’t have been overly upset had we gone out to Arsenal, leaving three other competitions to focus on.

If we continue in all competitions it will severely test the squad and rotation, and now with the door opening on a potential title that’s all I’d want. A nice problem to have though.

Are we, as supporters, prepared for another 63-game season?!

 

Looking ahead to the semi-final now, who would you be selecting in the XI and why?

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

MATT: As Jurgen has said, there’s no game for 10 days after this so why rotate?

That said, Kelleher is this competition’s keeper so surely has to start. Bring in Gravenberch and Jota for certain, plus Van Dijk if he’s okay. Perhaps even Bradley and start Trent in midfield.

I’d go: Kelleher; Bradley, Konate, Van Dijk, Gomez; Trent, Gravenberch, Jones; Diaz, Jota, Nunez

Leaves you Mac Allister, Gakpo and Elliott from the bench around the hour.

JO: Some interesting selections there, Matt.

It’s definitely one we can look to keep more or less the same, we have a decent break after the match and it represents one last push before the players can enjoy some time off.

I’m of the belief that we can start Mac Allister once again and Jota has to come in from the start. If Van Dijk is fit, he’s straight back in but Quansah is quite handy to have in reserve.

For me, I’m going: Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Gomez; Mac Allister, Gravenberch, Jones; Diaz, Jota, Gakpo