Liverpool roll into the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final against Premier League opponents Fulham off the back of a fine FA Cup third-round win at Arsenal – but one that dealt them more unwanted injury news. Trent Alexander-Arnold is the 10th senior player out for Jurgen Klopp who could drop Alisson, Ibrahima Konate, Joe Gomez, Curtis Jones and Darwin Nunez for this Anfield occasion. Express Sport runs you through how Liverpool may line up vs Fulham…
Caoimhin Kelleher has started in all of Liverpool’s last seven games in this competition. The last time he failed to start a League Cup match was January 2022, which was also the first leg of a semi-final. But the Irishman should return to the team here.
Alisson played against Arsenal in the FA Cup on Sunday and Kelleher will hope for a better night than the one he had against Fulham in the Premier League this season. Standing in for his injured Brazilian team-mate, he conceded three goals – though Liverpool still pulled off a late 4-3 win.
Defence: Bradley, Quansah, Van Dijk, Beck
Trent Alexander-Arnold faces three weeks out with a knee injury meaning Conor Bradley will have to step into his position. The Northern Irishman impressed in his substitute cameo at Arsenal. This will be his third start in this cup for Liverpool.
The absences of Alexander-Arnold, Kostas Tsimikas and Andy Robertson put the strain on Joe Gomez to stay fit. So after he played the full 90 at the Emirates at left-back, Owen Beck – recalled from a loan at Dundee where he was starting every game – should get an opportunity here. He is the great-nephew of the club’s all-time top goalscorer Ian Rush.
In defence Virgil van Dijk has been cleared to return after missing the weekend’s match due to illness. The captain will take the armband and could be partnered by young Jarell Quansah, with Ibrahima Konate on the bench purely for rest purposes rather than performance-related reasons. The Frenchman produced a masterful display in north London.
Midfield: Mac Allister, Gravenberch, Elliott
Alexis Mac Allister was hauled off on 59 minutes against Arsenal so that the Argentine can once again be the starting No 6 here. That’s with Wataru Endo away with Japan at the Asian Cup in Qatar for at least the rest of January.
Curtis Jones has been excellent of late but with Endo, Dominik Szoboszlai, Thiago Alcantara and Stefan Bajcetic – and also Alexander-Arnold who is capable of stepping into midfield – all unavailable at the moment, it is vital he stays fresh. As such, Ryan Gravenberch could make his first start since the Boxing Day win at Burnley.
Completing the midfield trio could be Harvey Elliott with the 20-year-old having been taken off with 15 minutes to go in the FA Cup. His energy will be important against a powerful Fulham midfield that will include Joao Palhinha. Klopp will hope to offer Bobby Clark, 18, some more minutes from the bench after he, like Bradley, looked at home at senior level last Sunday.
Attack: Jota, Gakpo, Diaz
Luis Diaz has rediscovered his spark and thrived against Newcastle before scoring an expertly-taken goal at Arsenal. As such, the Colombian – despite playing the full game on the weekend – might be asked to try and continue that momentum down the left. There is an 11-day break until the next game, a Premier League away match at Bournemouth, after this.
Darwin Nunez was lively against Arsenal but went without a goal. He might drop to the bench here in favour of Cody Gakpo, who was ineffective in a No 8 role in the same match but scored off the bench as an attacker against Newcastle in the game before. The Dutchman should operate as the No 9 here.
To complete the attack, Diogo Jota could be tasked with a first start since November 25 in Mohamed Salah’s Africa Cup of Nations-enforced absence. The Portuguese has enjoyed three very lively cameos from the bench against Burnley, Newcastle and Arsenal and will be eager to improve his nine-goal tally for the campaign against the Cottagers, who he has yet to score against in his career.
Liverpool predicted XI vs Fulham: Kelleher; Bradley, Quansah, Van Dijk, Beck; Mac Allister, Gravenberch, Elliott; Jota, Gakpo, Diaz
Predicted bench vs Fulham: Alisson; Chambers, Konate, Gomez; Jones, McConnell, Clark; Nunez, Gordon
Liverpool absentee list: Matip (injury), Robertson (injury), Tsimikas (injury), Alexander-Arnold (injury), Endo (Asian Cup), Szoboszlai (injury), Thiago (injury), Bajcetic (injury), Salah (AFCON), Doak (injury)