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Seize the chance, Klopp tells his men ahead of League Cup final

Liverpool, who go up against Chelsea, are chasing silverware in all four major competitions after closing the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City to three points



Shot stopper: Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker during a training session. — Liverpool FC Twitter
Shot stopper: Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker during a training session. — Liverpool FC Twitter

By AFP

Published: Sat 26 Feb 2022, 11:25 PM

Jurgen Klopp wants Liverpool to take a step towards immortality when they target the first trophy in their historic quadruple bid in Sunday’s League Cup final against Chelsea (8:30 pm UAE Time).

Klopp’s side are chasing silverware in all four major competitions after closing the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City to three points.

The Reds have made it to their first domestic cup final since 2016, are on course for the Champions League quarterfinals after a last 16 first leg win at Inter Milan and host Norwich in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday.

Klopp has already delivered Champions League glory in 2019 and a long-awaited Premier League title in 2020, but the German knows only sustained success will see his group ranked alongside the club’s 1970s and 1980s legends.

“We all know that in the moment the people are really happy,” Klopp said. “But in 20 years if you want to talk about this team, I would not be surprised if people would then say if we don’t win anything any more, ‘Yeah they were good, but they should have won more’.

“That’s why we should try now to win a few things. And the next chance, the best chance we have this weekend, is against Chelsea when it’s really tricky.”

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson believes victory at Wembley would be the perfect springboard for even greater success in the final weeks of the season.

No English club has ever won the top four trophies available in a single campaign and Henderson said: “It is a big moment. To get a trophy so early on in the season can give the squad a big boost.”

Henderson is the only survivor from Liverpool’s last domestic final victory in 2012 when he helped his team beat Cardiff on penalties to clinch the League Cup.

“We want to use it as a platform to give us a big confidence boost going towards the business end of the season,” he added.

Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino has been ruled out after missing the last two games with a groin injury, but Diogo Jota could feature following ankle ligament damage.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel’s biggest decision once again involves Romelu Lukaku after he dropped the troubled Belgian striker for the midweek Champions League win against Lille.

Lukaku has scored just 10 goals since his club record £97 million ($131 million) move from Inter Milan last year and expressed unhappiness with the way he was being used by Tuchel earlier this season.

The 28-year-old had only seven touches in his most recent appearance against Crystal Palace, the lowest by a Premier League player since 2003-04, with Kai Havertz scoring in an impressive display as his replacement against Lille.

Publicly at least, Tuchel is putting Lukaku’s recent struggles down to mental and physical tiredness.

“He is an important player, there is a lot of focus on him, but if you allow yourself to zoom out a little bit you can see he played a lot of matches from the start for us,” Tuchel said.

“Once you play for Chelsea you accept the team goes first. That’s why there are no hard feelings. We can only achieve our goals together.”

Tuchel could start England right-back Reece James, who has been sidelined since December with a hamstring injury, and is debating whether Edouard Mendy or Kepa Arrizabalaga will feature in goal.

“Kepa did fantastic in the period where we had to be without Edou. I cannot get sentimental about it. I have to do what is best for the team,” Tuchel said.

Chelsea have proved masters of cup competitions since Tuchel took charge in January 2021, winning last season’s Champions League, while lifting the Club World Cup and European Super Cup this term.

The Blues will be eyeing their first League Cup silverware since 2015, having lost the 2019 final to Manchester City.

Abramovich uncertainty weighing on Chelsea

Thomas Tuchel admits uncertainty over Roman Abramovich’s future as Chelsea owner is weighing on his club ahead of the League Cup final

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this week, Abramovich has been the subject of much discussion in the British Parliament.

Abramovich is one of a number of Russian oligarchs and companies facing potential sanctions from Britain in response to the Ukraine crisis.

It has been suggested in Parliament that the UK should seize Abramovich’s assets and bar him from owning Chelsea.

While Abramovich has not fallen under any sanctions so far, Chelsea boss Tuchel conceded the situation, along with the war in Ukraine, was proving a distraction going into the Liverpool clash at Wembley.

“We should not pretend this is not an issue. The situation in general for me and for my staff, the players, is horrible,” Tuchel told reporters on Friday.

“Nobody expected this. It’s pretty unreal, like I said it’s clouding our minds, it’s clouding our excitement towards the final.

“And it brings huge uncertainty, much more to all the people and families who are actually in the moment more involved than us.

“And our best wishes, regards and thoughts are obviously with them, which is absolutely the most important thing.”

Although Tuchel refused to comment directly on the Abramovich issue, he did say: “There are so many uncertainties around the situation of our club and of the situation in the UK, with scenarios like this, that it makes no sense if I comment on it.

“We are aware of it, we have not maybe so much inside information as you might think.

“But I think it’s also the right from the team, the staff, and I include myself, to be maybe not political, to do sports and to focus on sports.”


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