4 takeaways from Liverpool’s Carabao Cup comeback win over Fulham

It’s safe to say the script for the Carabao Cup semi-finals has been thrown well out the window.

24 hours after Chelsea slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium, courtesy of a first-half Hayden Hackney goal, Liverpool came within 25 minutes of their own upset, only for two late goals to steer Jurgen Klopp’s side to a 2-1 win over Fulham that gives the Reds one foot in the final.

Here are 90min’s four main takeaways from the game at Anfield.

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Conor BradleyConor Bradley

Bradley won the fans’ Player of the Match award / MB Media/GettyImages

Coming through the Liverpool academy in the same position as the best graduate of the past decade-and-a-bit was always going to be tricky for 20-year-old Conor Bradley, who was drafted in late on after Trent Alexander-Arnold picked up a knee injury in Sunday’s FA Cup third round win at Arsenal.

Filling the right-back’s boots was never going to be an easy job but Bradley looked comfortable playing against established Premier League opposition and, having impressed in League One with Bolton last season, is undoubtedly deserving of minutes at a higher level.

While Bradley is unlikely to become Liverpool’s immediate starter, he presents Klopp with an intriguing conundrum – does the emergence of a new right-back mean Alexander-Arnold can be pushed further into midfield?

Darwin NúñezDarwin Núñez

Nunez once again made a difference / MB Media/GettyImages

Does anyone know what Darwin Nunez actually does? Like, tactically, what is it he does? The Uruguay forward just turns up and causes absolute bedlem, and it’s ruthlessly effective.

While some fans have criticised Nunez for his underwhelming return in front of goal, one glance at his statistics shows exactly what he offers. The 24-year-old bagged his ninth and tenth assists of the season to inspire Liverpool’s comeback on Wednesday which, when put alongside his eight goals, is actually more than respectable.

Doubt him all you want, but Nunez is simply really hard to play against. It’s a unique approach to the game which isn’t always easy on the eye, but if it bamboozles defenders and leads to goals, what is there to complain about?

Ryan Gravenberch, Joao PalhinhaRyan Gravenberch, Joao Palhinha

Gravenberch struggled against Fulham / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

Four midfielders were signed last summer as part of the Liverpool 2.0 movement. In a team which plays three midfielders, one of those new faces was always going to face a bumpier quest to establish themselves, and that battle has fallen to Ryan Gravenberch.

The 21-year-old Dutchman, who has just escaped a similar issue with Bayern Munich, has been in and out of the team this year and did not do his prospects of a permanent starting place many favours with his showing against Fulham. Gravenberch started, lost ten of his 12 duels and was substituted shortly after half-time for the man who would go on to create both Liverpool’s goals.

It is by no means time to give up on Gravenberch. You can point to his age, inexperience and status as a new signing for three justifiable reasons for his struggles, but with players like Harvey Elliott and the excellent Curtis Jones all in the same midfield battle, Gravenberch cannot afford many more of these performances.

Marco SilvaMarco Silva

Silva knows something the rest of us don’t / Ryan Pierse/GettyImages

Liverpool have been the best team in England this season, and yet 13th-placed Fulham have come perilously close to beating them twice in five weeks.

The two sides met at Anfield back on December 3 and Fulham were leading 3-2 with three minutes to go, only for Wataru Endo and Alexander-Arnold to strike late and snatch all three points. The Cottagers’ lead on Wednesday only made it to the 68th minute, but they still forced Liverpool to dig deep and battle from behind.

What’s Marco Silva’s secret? Managers around Europe will be queuing up if he ever decides to reveal it.


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