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Liverpool Pick Up First Silverware of the Season in Extra Time Win Over Chelsea

Liverpool picked up the first trophy of the 2023/24 season with an extra time victory over Chelsea. Virgil van Dijk netted the only goal of the game in the 118th minute to award Liverpool their tenth League Cup title, more than any other club in England, as they look to end the Klopp era at Anfield with a bang. They’re still in the hunt for a further three trophies; they lead the Premier League table by a single point, they take on Southampton in the 5th round of the FA Cup later this week and they’re one of the favourites in the Europa League as they enter the Round-of-16 stage.

Their victory against Chelsea was all the more impressive after they suffered further injuries in the last week to the likes of Mo Salah, Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota who joined Alisson, Trent Alexander Arnold, Dominik Szoboszlai, Curtis Jones, Thiago and Joel Matip on the casualty list. Their starting line-up still boasted a team with a decent amount of experience, but they were only able to name 9 substitutes, few of whom are household names at this time. It was the first time Liverpool fielded three U21 players in a major final. Conversely, Chelsea’s starting eleven cost the club over 500 million dollars, including two players bought at over 100 million in Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo.

Liverpool started the match well, but Chelsea looked dangerous on the break and actually created the best chance of the first half, not including their goal that was disallowed for offside. It was the injury to Ryan Gravenberch on the half hour mark was a turning point for sure. The second half actually went the same way, but as the game went on, and Liverpool’s players tired and the substitutes came on, Chelsea’s dominance grew stronger. And when the scores were level at full time and Chelsea had somehow not found a way through, everyone expected them to continue on.

And yet, as extra time started, it was clear that Chelsea had no plans to push on. Which was odd considering Liverpool had already taken off a number of experienced players and had four teenagers on the pitch. Chelsea meanwhile were able to bring on players with much experience and even bigger transfer fees. Mudryk, Madueke and Nkunku entered the fray, but created little. And by the time van Dijk netted the winner with two minutes left, there was little more they could do.

Caoimhin Kelleher in the Liverpool goal, deputizing for one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Allison, had an incredible final, making nine saves in total, three of which were grade A chances, and he was a man possessed. In fairness, Chelsea also fielded their substitute goalkeeper in Djordje Petrovic, and he too had a pretty terrific game. Its rare for a match with a total of 43 goal attempts to yield only one goal, but it speaks volumes about the lack of quality up front and the quality of each defence here. And it took a defender to score the only goal of the game, assisted by another defender.

So where can Liverpool go from here. They will want to make Klopp’s final season at the club a memorable one, and with a trophy in the bag already, they’re still on course. And yet with their current injury list, its going to be a tough final 3 months at Anfield. Their next generation of players are getting some terrific experience, but they’re not likely to be able to rely on them for the entire rest of the season if they’re to do the unthinkable and win everything.

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