Caoimhin Kelleher set to start Carabao Cup final

Press conferenceCaoimhin Kelleher set to start Carabao Cup final

Published 21st January 2022
By Sam Williams

Caoimhin Kelleher is set to start the Carabao Cup final, Jürgen Klopp has confirmed.

The 23-year-old is Liverpool’s designated goalkeeper for the competition and kept a clean sheet to help his team beat Arsenal 2-0 at Emirates Stadium in Thursday night’s decisive last-four second leg.

However, Kelleher missed the semi-final first leg after Klopp deemed it necessary for No.1 Alisson Becker to play following his enforced break due to COVID-19.

The manager was asked on Friday whether Republic of Ireland international Kelleher will retain his spot for next month’s showpiece match versus Chelsea.

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“Caoimhin will play, if he is fit,” Klopp replied.

When asked to elaborate on the reasons for that decision, the boss said: “As a football manager you have to consider obviously a lot of things… we consider Caoimhin as an outstanding goalie - not a good goalie, an outstanding goalie - and we want to keep him here. 

“To keep him here you need to make sure of a few things; different games he will get, before a season you think about it, you talk about it and it’s all about performing of course. If he wouldn’t have performed on the level he performed when he played I would maybe see it differently, but he shows that he deserves all the trust and faith we have in him. That’s the situation. 

“Actually I am a little bit surprised about the question. Not ‘surprised’, but I didn’t think about it properly so I might do that. My idea in this moment is that Caoimhin will play. Let’s see until then but I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t do it, to be honest, because Caoimhin deserves it. He brought the team there. 

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“Last week against Arsenal I had to explain, I understood it like I had to explain, to Caoimhin why he was not playing. I usually do not do that, I do not explain to Caoimhin why he is not playing in the Premier League or whatever, but it was his competition and I thought Ali needs the game because of lacking rhythm after COVID and all these kind of things. 

“And what I really liked was that Caoimhin was not like, ‘Oh yeah, I understand’, he was like, ‘What? Why?’ so he matures in all departments and that’s good, that’s absolutely good. That is exactly the goalie we wanted. 

“I said it before that it is really a John Achterberg project, I have to say, because when I came here there were not all the people in the club thinking, ‘Caoimhin Kelleher will be the next one.’ There was one person and that was John and here we go. 

“That’s a goalie who, if you have to buy it, that’s pretty expensive. So we have now the best in the world and a really, really good one. That’s a good situation.”

Klopp was also asked about Trent Alexander-Arnold and Fabinho during the second section of Friday’s media conference.

Read more below…

On whether Alexander-Arnold is a unique player in world football…

I don’t know anybody who is like Trent, who is a right-back and is that decisive and influential and all these kind of things. But I heard again last night on the bus on the way home, the television was on and people are talking and I really don’t like when it gets mentioned that, ‘Yeah, defensively he is not that good but he is offensively that influential.’ Honestly, I thought he played outstandingly well defensively last night. Little Martinelli, we will talk about this player in the future, if he will be without major injuries he will have a proper career. He is really good and what he [Alexander-Arnold] did there against him and how he kept him busy defensively and where he showed up… the package of Trent is insane.

It’s not now that he delivers every day, there are still departments where he can improve and has to improve; we work on that and I will not stop telling him! But the package is really interesting, I have to say. I’m not sure what that means in history, there is still 15 years or whatever to play and to create and to score and to learn and improve and all these kind of things. But yeah, the last five years were a good start in a career, I would say.

On whether it was overlooked how much Fabinho having to be moved from central midfield affected the team last season...

Not by us! I don’t know what you saw and ‘overlooked’ or whatever… we had to play Hendo and Fabinho as centre-halves and that is of course not exactly like it should be. I thought they did really well and we played really good games with them there but it obviously costs you stability and you cannot win football games in the mid-to-long term without stability, it’s not possible. You can win a football game, you can win each football game because the other team hits 20 times the post and the crossbar and you can win it but that has nothing to do with yourself, it’s just because they are unlucky. But if you want to win it because you are the better team you need stability and we had no stability, we couldn’t have, that’s the situation.

How good Fabinho is you saw last night. But he is not a machine because it’s not like he played all the other games like the last two and against Chelsea all on the same level. We are all human beings but the quality he has is absolutely incredible. If he is at his best and he is in the centre of the pitch, yes that’s then very, very helpful because then you can think about a lot of other things. You can organise your protection completely different because you can rely on different things. If you don’t have that you organise your protection differently but it’s completely out of the box because usually we do it like this and everything has to change because he is not there. That needs time, but you don’t have [time] in the Premier League. That was our problem last year but no, we didn’t overlook it. If you overlooked it, I don’t know.

Published 21st January 2022