It's one trophy down, three to go for quadruple-chasing Liverpool after their dramatic Carabao Cup win… so, can an injury-ravaged squad defy the odds to give Jurgen Klopp the PERFECT send-off?
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It's one trophy down, three to go for quadruple-chasing Liverpool after their dramatic Carabao Cup win… so, can an injury-ravaged squad defy the odds to give Jurgen Klopp the PERFECT send-off?

Mar 25, 2024

One trophy down, three more to go. Liverpool winning a quadruple this season sounds so straightforward on paper.

It would be the most phenomenal farewell gift for Jurgen Klopp, who was bursting with pride after his youthful side beat Chelsea 1-0 to claim the Carabao Cup on Sunday.

The Reds currently top the Premier League by a point from reigning champions Manchester City and are still alive in both the FA Cup and the Europa League.

But of course achieving a clean sweep will be fiendishly difficult and will push an already-stretched squad to breaking point.

We outline the reasons why Liverpool could win a quadruple and the reasons why they’re likely to fall short here.

Liverpool have their first trophy in the bag after beating Chelsea to win the Carabao Cup

Liverpool have their first trophy in the bag after beating Chelsea to win the Carabao Cup

Virgil van Dijk's winner late in extra time gave the Reds the first trophy of a potential four

Virgil van Dijk’s winner late in extra time gave the Reds the first trophy of a potential four

Jurgen Klopp has claimed silverware in his farewell season at Anfield - but could more follow?

Jurgen Klopp has claimed silverware in his farewell season at Anfield – but could more follow?

REASONS THEY CAN WIN ALL FOUR

The best thing Liverpool have in their favour right now is momentum.

The wind is in their sails and the manner of Sunday’s victory at Wembley – with so many first-team regulars out injured and in such dramatic circumstances – will only boost their confidence further.

Klopp’s side simply refuse to lose. They’ve lost only four times all season – to Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal in the league, and to Toulouse and Union Saint-Gilloise in the Europa group stages.

Of 40 matches played in all competitions, they’ve won 29 of them, and since the turn of the year, only a Carabao Cup semi-final draw at Fulham and the Arsenal defeat blot the copybook.

In what was billed as a potentially transitional season as Klopp builds his ‘Liverpool 2.0’, he has nonetheless created another winning ‘mentality monster’ team.

On a roll, Liverpool next host Championship high-flyers Southampton in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday night, before heading to Nottingham Forest in the league on Saturday (a rare 3pm game).

Next Thursday will see them pick up their Europa League campaign in the last-16 stage with a trip to the Czech capital to face Sparta Prague. Then it’s a crunch game with City at Anfield.

It was thought Klopp's side were in transition but they seem to have the same mentality of old

It was thought Klopp’s side were in transition but they seem to have the same mentality of old

Ryan Gravenberch (right) was the latest injury casualty for Liverpool as he left Wembley on crutches on Sunday. Curtis Jones (centre) wears a protective boot after his injury

Ryan Gravenberch (right) was the latest injury casualty for Liverpool as he left Wembley on crutches on Sunday. Curtis Jones (centre) wears a protective boot after his injury

Klopp’s Liverpool have been here fighting on multiple fronts several times and they’re used to the frenetic pace of Springtime.

Two seasons ago, they took City to the wire in the title race, won both domestic cups and made the Champions League final. That was certainly intense but they rolled on and on.

While Liverpool’s teamsheet has been ravaged by injuries – with practically an entire team out – Klopp will take confidence in the fact there were five players aged 21 or under on the Wembley pitch come the end on Sunday.

Conor Bradley, Jayden Danns, James McConnell, Bobby Clark and Jarell Quansah helped them over the line and if they can do it in a final, they can do it in most matches.

What’s more, the flip side to having several injury absentees is that they return to fitness. In theory, Liverpool should grow stronger during the run-in as their stars come back.

Forwards Darwin Nunez (left) and Mohamed Salah (right) are among those currently sidelined

Forwards Darwin Nunez (left) and Mohamed Salah (right) are among those currently sidelined

We await news of the severity of the ankle/foot injuries suffered by midfielders Ryan Gravenberch and Wataru Endo on Sunday.

But Dominik Szoboszlai shouldn’t be too far off a return, likewise Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez.

The way Nunez bounded over two barriers to celebrate Virgil van Dijk’s winner suggests he isn’t too far off fitness.

Curtis Jones, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alisson Becker may return by the end of March, Diogo Jota hopefully for the season’s climax.

So the cavalry should arrive for the biggest games and the good news for Klopp is that all of his forwards are enjoying good scoring seasons.

Salah leads the way with 19, while Jota has 14, Nunez 13, Cody Gakpo 11 and Luis Diaz 11, meaning Liverpool aren’t entirely reliant on just one source of goals.

Klopp's team should theoretically get stronger as key players return from injury

Klopp’s team should theoretically get stronger as key players return from injury 

REASONS THEY’LL FALL SHORT

Given that mounting injury list, Liverpool must negotiate the next few weeks while well under-strength.

The FA Cup is obviously straight knockout and Southampton have impressed in the Championship. Forest are scrapping for their lives at the bottom of the Premier League and wouldn’t have enjoyed Everton leaping back above them.

Czech League leaders Sparta will fancy a scalp in the Europa League and City will be title favourites if they win at Anfield.

City are Liverpool’s most formidable obstacle to the quadruple – they haven’t been perfect all season but what’s notable is Pep Guardiola’s men are grinding out wins, lately by just one goal.

They haven’t actually tasted defeat in 17 matches going back to December 6 and we have seen time-after-time how City effortlessly glide through the gears at this time of year.

Manchester City seen to have found the knack of grinding out narrow wins, with Phil Foden scoring the only goal of their weekend win at Bournemouth

Manchester City seen to have found the knack of grinding out narrow wins, with Phil Foden scoring the only goal of their weekend win at Bournemouth

Pep Guardiola and City are old hands at title run-ins and will also want to defend the FA Cup

Pep Guardiola and City are old hands at title run-ins and will also want to defend the FA Cup

Title run-ins 

LIVERPOOL

Saturday Nottingham Forest (A)

March 10 Man City (H)

March 17 Everton (A)

March 31 Brighton (H)

April 3 Sheff United (H)

Dates subject to change after this point

April 6 Man United (A)

April 13 Crystal Palace (H)

April 20 Fulham (A)

April 27 West Ham (A)

May 4 Tottenham (H)

May 11 Aston Villa (A)

May 19 Wolves (H)

MAN CITY

Sunday Man United (H)

March 10 Liverpool (A)

March 17 Brighton (A)

March 31 Arsenal (H)

April 3 Aston Villa (H)

Dates subject to change after this point

April 6 Crystal Palace (A)

April 13 Luton Town (H)

April 20 Tottenham (A)

April 27 Nottingham Forest (A)

May 4 Wolves (H)

May 11 Fulham (A)

May 19 West Ham (H)

ARSENAL

Monday Sheffield United (A)

March 9 Brentford (H)

March 16 Chelsea (H)

March 31 Man City (A)

April 2 Luton Town (H)

Dates subject to change after this point

April 6 Brighton (A)

April 13 Aston Villa (H)

April 20 Wolves (A)

April 27 Tottenham (A)

May 4 Bournemouth (H)

May 11 Man United (A)

May 19 Everton (H)

City have the benefit of a fully fit squad at the moment – only Josko Gvardiol is absent – and possess bags of title run-in experience. They’ll also wish to defend the FA Cup.

Arsenal also cannot be discounted in what is genuinely a three-way title race, leaving zero margin for error.

Then there’s the full-on schedule. If Liverpool advance in Europe, they’ll be playing Thursday-Sunday most weeks and will have to cram in 12 more Premier League, four FA Cup and seven Europa League games between now and May 25.

That will unquestionably push Klopp’s already brittle squad to the maximum. He may be unable to rotate his squad as much as he likes, for instance fielding a more youthful side in the Europa League. 

Liverpool are the bookmakers’ favourites to win the Europa League but they will face stiff competition from Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen, AC Milan, Roma and compatriots Brighton and West Ham.

Bayer Leverkusen, coached by Klopp's potential successor Xabi Alonso, could block their path to success in the Europa League

Bayer Leverkusen, coached by Klopp’s potential successor Xabi Alonso, could block their path to success in the Europa League

There’s the pressure of narrative, too. After scoring his winner on Sunday, Van Dijk insisted the talk of giving Klopp the perfect send-off is coming from outside Liverpool’s dressing room, not inside it.

But the further they get, the more that’ll ramp up and the players won’t be impervious to the pressure of the situation.

They’ll need that outstanding mentality Klopp has instilled in them more than ever.

Liverpool’s packed schedule 

Wednesday Southampton (H) FA Cup fifth round

Saturday Nottingham Forest (A) Premier League

March 7 Sparta Prague (A) Europa League last-16, first leg

March 10 Manchester City (H) PL

March 14 Sparta Prague (H) Europa League last-16, second leg

March 17 Everton (A) PL or potential FA Cup quarter-final

March 31 Brighton (H) PL

April 3 Sheffield United (H) PL

Dates TBC after this point

April 6 Manchester United (A) PL

April 11 Potential Europa League quarter-final, first leg

April 13 Crystal Palace (H) PL

April 18 Potential Europa League quarter-final, second leg

April 20 Fulham (A) PL or potential FA Cup semi-final

Midweek slot for rearranged Premier League game 

April 27 West Ham United (A) PL

May 2 Potential Europa League semi-final, first leg

May 4 Tottenham Hotspur (H) PL

May 9 Potential Europa League semi-final, second leg

May 11 Aston Villa (A) PL

Midweek slot for rearranged Premier League game 

May 19 Wolves (H) PL

May 22 Potential Europa League final (Dublin)

May 25 Potential FA Cup final (Wembley)

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