It was a night of euphoria for Liverpool fans as the Reds beat Arsenal on penalties after a 10-goal Carabao Cup thriller, but manager Jurgen Klopp said it might have been the team’s final game in the competition this season.
Liverpool’s quarterfinal at Aston Villa is due to take place on either December 17 or 18 but that conflicts with the Club World Cup in Qatar that same week.
“If they don’t find a proper date for us then we cannot play the next round and whoever is our opponent will go through — or Arsenal will play it,” Klopp told reporters at Anfield Wednesday following the 5-4 win on penalties. “I cannot change that.
“If they don’t find a place for us, an appropriate place, not 3 am on Christmas Day, then we don’t play it,” the German added.
“You have to think about these things. If you have a fixture list where one team cannot be part of all the games, then you have to think about it. Hopefully it starts at one point, hopefully it starts now.”
Liverpool’s fixture list reveals a packed schedule so the EFL, which governs the Carabao Cup — the secondary cup competition in England after the FA Cup — might have to work overtime to find a suitable date.
“The EFL is in discussions with Liverpool FC to identify an alternative date given the club’s participation in the FIFA Club World Cup competition,” an EFL spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.
The Premier League leader has six games in November starting this Saturday, ironically, with Aston Villa.
Liverpool has at least six more games in December — aside from the Club World Cup — with a Premier League away trip to West Ham already having to be rescheduled because of Liverpool’s trip to the Middle East.
The first leg of the Carabao Cup semifinals is scheduled for January 7 or 8, the weekend after Liverpool begins its FA Cup campaign.
Goals at Anfield
Arsenal could have, or perhaps should have, featured in the quarterfinal draw. Instead the result is sure to increase the pressure on manager Unai Emery. Some Arsenal fans are calling for the currently free Jose Mourinho to step in.
Arsenal blew 3-1, 4-2 and 5-4 leads, seeing Divock Origi score the second of his two goals in the fourth minute of injury time to send the game to penalties.
Both teams started understrength sides, with the likes of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe all missing. There was, however, a recall for Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, who had been in the wilderness under Emery.
Only one penalty taker, Dani Ceballos, missed his spot kick, with Liverpool’s third-choice keeper, Caoimhin Kelleher diving to his right to deny the Spanish international on loan from Real Madrid.
“We are disappointed in the end, defensively, because we conceded five goals but there were a lot of positives for us to use for the future,” Emery said post match.
Over the weekend, Arsenal blew a two-goal lead at home to Crystal Palace and drew 2-2, less than a week after losing 1-0 at newly promoted Sheffield United.
The so-called bigger sides avoided each other elsewhere in the Carabao Cup quarterfinal draw: Manchester City visits League One Oxford, Manchester United hosts League Two Colchester and Everton hosts Leicester in the second all-Premier League clash.