Managers Klopp, Conte against two-legged League Cup semis

Gooooooaaal!: Liverpool’s Diogo Jota scores the winning penalty past Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel in the League Cup quarterfinal at Anfield. — AP
Gooooooaaal!: Liverpool’s Diogo Jota scores the winning penalty past Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel in the League Cup quarterfinal at Anfield. — AP

London - The semifinals, beginning in two weeks, are still due to be over two legs despite the upsurge in coronavirus cases wiping out games and creating a fixture pile-up



By AP/AFP

Published: Thu 23 Dec 2021, 11:12 PM

Antonio Conte will have to overcome former club Chelsea to reach the League Cup final early in his Tottenham career, and he wants to do it in one match.

The semifinals, beginning in two weeks, are still due to be over two legs despite the upsurge in coronavirus cases wiping out games and creating a fixture pile-up.

Tottenham overcame West Ham 2-1 and Chelsea beat Brentford 2-0 on Wednesday before being paired together in the last four that will see Arsenal also play Liverpool.

“If I have to decide maybe it would be to play one game and not two games, especially I repeat for the situation we are living but we have to respect the rules,” Conte said. “For sure it will be nice and good to play against Chelsea for me. I spent two amazing seasons with Chelsea (2016-18) and I enjoyed a lot and everything there, but now I am the manager of Tottenham and I am ready to give everything for this club.”

Jurgen Klopp would gladly give up home advantage to also see Liverpool not have to play two games for the semifinals in the first two weeks of 2022 given the lack of winter break and packed festive programme stretching the squad.

Liverpool were taken to penalties by Leicester in Wednesday’s other quarterfinal, prevailing 5-4 in the shootout after the game ended 3-3 after 90 minutes.

“I think it would be better with one game absolutely, but obviously what I say is not too important,” said Klopp, who revealed a Premier League managers’ meeting will take place to address a series of coronavirus concerns.

“If there are two games, then we will play two games. But it would be helpful if there was only one, true.

“The draw has us at Arsenal, I’m fine with that, we play there and see who is better and go for it,” Klopp said. “I don’t just speak about player welfare this year, I have been speaking about it for six years or maybe longer.

Spurs have a backlog of three Premier League fixtures due to postponements for bad weather and coronavirus outbreaks among the squad, while Liverpool have also been impacted by four positive cases of Covid-19 over the past week.

Six of the scheduled 10 Premier League games last weekend were called off and more are expected in the coming weeks as the authorities have decided to press ahead despite record numbers of positive cases across Britain. The two-legged semifinals of last year’s League Cup were cut back to one game due to the backlog caused by a late start to the season by the pandemic.

Liverpool comeback

There was an immediate impact at Anfield by Leicester striker Jamie Vardy whose double made it 10 goals in 14 appearances against Liverpool.

Goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher got a touch to Vardy’s shot in the ninth minute but couldn’t keep it out. The striker sidefooted in a cross from Patson Daka four minutes later.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain prevented the game running away from Liverpool by pulling one back in the 19th but James Maddison restored Leicester’s two-goal lead in the 33rd with a strike from 25 yards.

Having made 10 changes from the side that drew at Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday, Klopp turned to more experienced players in the second half — including Diogo Jota who netted in the 68th. Leicester was preparing for a semifinal until Takumi Minamino equalized in the fifth minute of stoppage time. But with a chance to win the shootout for Liverpool, Minamino failed to convert. After Ryan Bertrand’s penalty for Leicester was saved by Kelleher, Jota responded by hitting the target to send Liverpool through to meet Arsenal. Mikel Arteta’s side beat Sunderland 5-1 on Tuesday. — AP/AFP


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