LONDON – Liverpool are leaving absolutely nothing on the field in their pursuit of the quadruple. After a second win in the Cup final on penalties against Chelsea this season, Jurgen Klopp’s side have added the FA Cup to the Carabao Cup they won at Wembley three months ago. But with Mohamed Salah limping off after just 33 minutes with a groin strain and Virgil van Dijk unable to play past the 90th minute, time will tell how much that win over Thomas Tuchel’s side cost Chelsea what it didn’t enviable accolade making them the first team in FA Cup history to lose the final in three consecutive seasons.
“We are mentality monsters, but there were also mentality monsters in blue,” said Klopp. “It was a penalty [between the teams]. Chelsea played brilliantly but in the end there has to be a winner and that was us today.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my boys, the change they made, how hard they fought, the early changes.”
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History tends not to remember the losers and Chelsea’s renewed win is quickly drowned out by a red flurry of Liverpool cheers. Despite not winning anything else this season, Liverpool have already achieved a domestic cup double, a feat they last achieved in 2001, and that year they also won a major European trophy, beating Spanish club Alaves and won the UEFA Cup.
Klopp’s remarkable side are still on course to repeat that cup treble by beating Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Paris on May 28, but in the meantime Liverpool could lay the platform for an unprecedented quadruple by it edged out Manchester City in the title race for the Premier League title. That remains the most difficult and unlikely goal Liverpool can achieve. City can move six points clear with a win at West Ham on Sunday and have two games left, but whatever the result at the London Stadium, Klopp’s players will need to go to the well again on Tuesday in Southampton to win to keep their title hopes alive Life.
From Kostas Tsimikas’ decisive penalty that settled Saturday’s Cup final 6-5 in Liverpool’s favour, to kick-off in Southampton, Klopp’s side have just 72 hours to recover from the physical and emotional toll of that grueling Wembley win . And that’s the biggest problem Liverpool now face in their quadruple quest: do they have enough time to play, win and recover before their next challenge?
At the end of extra time, Liverpool’s players could barely walk. They were so exhausted by the demands of facing the outgoing European champions that the penalties actually offered a form of physical relief. Luis Diaz, who scored six shots on goal in a sensational display down the left, was replaced by Roberto Firmino seven minutes after extra time because his energy tank was empty, while left-back Andy Robertson was replaced by Tsimikas in the 110th minute.
When Liverpool take on Real in Paris, Diaz and Robertson will be two of the first names on Klopp’s squad list, so their withdrawal at Wembley was significant in that it suggested their manager was careful not to push them too far and risk that they will be hurt. That fate has already befallen Fabinho, who missed that game with a hamstring strain in midweek’s 2-1 win at Aston Villa, but Klopp is confident the Brazilian midfielder will be fit against Real.
However, there will be concerns about Salah and Van Dijk. Both are vital to Liverpool’s side – arguably the most important players alongside goalkeeper Alisson Becker – so it would be a blast to be in Paris without them. But they could also be needed in Southampton and, if Liverpool win that game, at home against Wolves in next Sunday’s final of the season.
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Klopp is a sensible manager and he won’t risk his best players unless the stakes are so high he has to, but Liverpool are now in a phase where every game is huge. They are all must-win games but players can only push their physical and mental limits so far and the situation with Fabinho, Salah and Van Dijk is proof of that.
“I think Virgil is fine but his muscle was injured,” said Klopp, downplaying concerns about his central defence.
Even if they are all able to sail at Southampton on Tuesday, their muscles and heads are feeling the heat so everything is now a risk for Klopp. Liverpool are clinging to the quadruple with their fingertips but they still have some grip and that’s remarkable given their workload.
You are now possibly two weeks away from the story. Two lost, two to go, but the next two are the hardest to win, especially with injuries piling up.