Pepijn Lijnders, Liverpool’s assistant manager, has said Jürgen Klopp’s side have the “weapons” to hurt Arsenal and added incentive to reach the Carabao Cup final having felt written off after last week’s semi-final stalemate at Anfield.
Liverpool were unable to capitalise on Granit Xhaka’s 24th-minute dismissal in the first leg and require a first League Cup win away at Arsenal in seven attempts to reach Wembley for the first time since 2016. The aftermath of the first leg, with Liverpool self-critical and Arsenal’s 10 men celebrating in front of their fans, will serve as motivation for Thursday’s return, insists Lijnders.
“I couldn’t wait for this game since the final whistle at Anfield because everyone was writing us off,” he said. “It was the disappointment of the stadium, the disappointment of the fans and the disappointment of us as a staff. It is not the outside world I am speaking about, it is the inside world. We need optimism in our squad because this semi-final is decided over two legs. It is half-time, it is 0-0 and there are no away goals. We proved already a lot of times that with a 0-0 at home, Bayern Munich for example, we can go there and do the things we do.
“We are Liverpool Football Club and our team proved that we want to attack this competition and reach finals. A lot of people didn’t believe me when I said that before. We are here in the semi-final and can reach Wembley and we should try with everything we have to reach it. The journey for the fans to London to prepare a final, that is what this club is all about. As a player of Liverpool we won a lot but if you want to become a true legend you need to go for the national cups as well.”
Klopp will be without Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Divock Origi, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who scored as a makeshift striker against Brentford on Sunday, is also absent. But Lijnders believes Liverpool have evolved as an attacking threat this season and have numerous ways to hurt Arsenal.
“We knew, especially after last year, that we needed to create different weapons, create goals from everywhere, last passes from everywhere, dribbles from everywhere, attacks from everywhere, and not based on counterattack or just the speed of these two boys [Mané and Salah],” he said. “They are our face, our front line, they give us so much direction in our game. What I like is we don’t have one weapon, we have so many ways to attack, and how we are evolving as a team and how we are developing with our positional game is important.”