Caoimhin Kelleher on semi-final selection and Arsenal aims

PreviewCaoimhin Kelleher on semi-final selection and Arsenal aims

Published 19th January 2022
By Sam Williams

Caoimhin Kelleher is mentally prepared for his first semi-final if called upon to return to Liverpool's team for Thursday's Carabao Cup decider against Arsenal.

The Republic of Ireland international is the Reds’ designated goalkeeper in the competition but Alisson Becker played last week’s first leg, with Jürgen Klopp explaining that the No.1 needed game time after his enforced break due to COVID-19.

At the pre-match press conference, assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders was coy on which stopper will be selected for the second meeting at Emirates Stadium as he praised each of Adrian, Alisson and Kelleher individually.

Arsenal v Liverpool: Carabao Cup team news
19th January 2022

MatchArsenal v Liverpool: Carabao Cup team newsAlex Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss the second leg of Liverpool's Carabao Cup semi-final with Arsenal on Thursday as he recovers from an ankle injury sustained during the weekend win over Brentford.

“I’ll just prepare like I am [playing] but I’m not fully sure yet,” Kelleher told on Tuesday.

“We had a little chat with the manager [before the first leg] and he just explained that Alisson had a few weeks off with COVID and stuff, so I think he needed the game just to get back in the rhythm of things after being out for a while. I fully understood the reasons.”

Read the rest of our pre-match interview with Kelleher below…

Caoimhin, if you are selected on Thursday night, will this be the biggest game of your Liverpool career so far?

Possibly. It’ll be a big game, obviously my first semi-final and there’s all to play for in the second leg. Hopefully I can be on the winning side.

The first leg at Anfield was a frustrating game. Did the win over Brentford, scoring three times and keeping a clean sheet boost confidence ahead of the second leg?

Yeah, I think it gave us a bit of confidence but I think we still had confidence after Thursday. I know maybe we did struggle a bit to break them down, it was always [going to be] difficult when they go down to 10 men and you’re playing against 10 men behind the ball, it’s not easy. But look, we’re still full of confidence. We were full of confidence going into Brentford, we got a good result there, so now we’re just ready to go and we want to get the win here.

Inside Anfield: Liverpool 3-0 Brentford

Do you expect the second leg to be different? The first game was skewed by the early red card and Arsenal are at home this time so you would expect them to attack more anyway…

Absolutely. I think it’ll be a completely different game. For maybe, I think, 70 minutes they were down to 10 men so I think this game will be completely different. It will be both of us really going for the win and not one team sitting back. So it’ll be much more of an open game and an attacking one, I think.

Could that help Liverpool too? If Arsenal do attack more that would probably mean there is more space to counter into…

Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, it’s always difficult to break down 10 men behind the ball, it’s not easy, so when both teams are going for it more gaps and more chances will appear, which might suit us.

There’s a possibility of the tie going to penalties and your record in shootouts in this competition is superb. Have you studied Arsenal’s probable penalty takers yet?

No, we’ve not looked at them. Maybe we might have a look at them tomorrow [Wednesday] or the day of the game. Hopefully it doesn’t go down to penalties but if it does then we’ll be ready for that.

Watch the quarter-final penalty shootout in full

I guess you’d feel pretty confident if that was the case, given your record?

Yeah, absolutely. Like I’ve always said, there’s no pressure on me. If I don’t make a save then so be it, but if it does go down to that then I’ll be ready and will try to do my best.

A place in the final is at stake. Would that be the stuff dreams are made of, walking out at Wembley for a cup final?

Obviously it would be a great honour to be able to represent Liverpool in a cup final. We’re one game away - I think we’re going to give everything we have and hopefully it’s good enough. If we can get to Wembley then it’s going to be a great occasion for the whole club.

Published 19th January 2022