Jamie Carragher “will never understand” the decision to use a back-up goalkeeper in a cup final, which is what Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is likely to do this weekend.
The Reds come up against Chelsea on Sunday in the Carabao Cup final. They have the opportunity to lift the trophy for the first time since 2011-12, which came after a penalty shoot-out win over Cardiff City.
Alisson is Klopp’s first-choice keeper and one of the best shot-stoppers in the world. But the Brazil international has been rested for most rounds of the Carabao Cup, with 23-year-old Caoimhin Kelleher coming in to replace him.
At the pre-match press conference, Klopp’s assistant Pep Lijnders all but confirmed Kelleher would be in goal for the final.
“Kelleher is a really good example; him reaching the final it shows that there’s an inside path for young goalkeepers at the club,” the coach said.
“A compliment for the goalkeeping department, that is what I like that it’s possible a young keeper can make the final. It’s nice to see.”
However, club legend Carragher is not convinced. He reckons Chelsea could opt for a similar strategy too, which would see Kepa Arrizabalaga play instead of Edouard Mendy.
Jamie Carragher bemoans Liverpool decision
Carragher wrote in his column for The Telegraph: “I will never understand the theory behind selecting a second-choice goalkeeper in a major final.
“Liverpool will play Kelleher ahead of Alisson. Chelsea will do likewise if – as expected – Kepa Arrizabalaga starts ahead of Edouard Mendy.
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“It is nothing against those players. The Spanish keeper is a world-record signing for a No. 1 and Kelleher has done well when called upon, playing a big part in Liverpool getting to Wembley.
“It is more the principle of leaving a world-class keeper on the bench I struggle with, especially in a final where small details make all the difference. This cup final logic only seems to apply to keepers.
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“In the early rounds of the cups, plenty of youngsters and back-up players get their chance, but they realise they will be stepping aside if Wembley beckons. That’s why Liverpool’s Kaide Gordon played in the semi-final, but may not even make the bench this weekend.
“Why is it any different for back-up keepers? As a fan travelling to Wembley, I would always be more comfortable knowing the best XI is starting.”
Carragher also made a prediction on how the final may go.”There is very little between the teams,” he added. “Liverpool just edge it in overall quality – as the current league table suggests – but in a one-off final it will be no surprise if the game goes to extra-time or penalties.
“Another key weapon Liverpool possess is their set-piece threat. They have been the best in the country this season and scored from another corner in midweek. In a tight game, it would be no surprise if that proves to be the difference.”