£35m man left out as 'essential' 31-year-old returns to start: Liverpool's Carabao Cup final predicted XI
Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

£35m man left out as 'essential' 31-year-old returns to start: Liverpool's Carabao Cup final predicted XI

Liverpool take on Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday with the first silverware of the season at stake.

The Reds head into the Carabao Cup final for the first time since losing to Manchester City in 2016.

Liverpool approach the game in great form having closed the gap at the top of the Premier League to just three points.

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp has a near full strength squad to choose from against Chelsea. There are a few tough decisions to be made. But here’s how we think he’ll line his team up.


Although Jamie Carragher thinks it should be otherwise, Klopp has confirmed Caoimhin Kelleher will start in goal.

Three of the back four almost pick themselves for a big game like this. Trent Alexander-Arnold is virtually irreplaceable for Liverpool and they will look to him to be their creator in chief on Sunday.

Virgil Van Dijk is looking back to his best. These are the kind of occasions where legends can be made.

The 30-year-old has nothing left to prove, but he could further enhance his reputation with a top display here.

Andy Robertson responded brilliantly to early season pressure from Kostas Tsimikas and, as The Reds first choice left-back will start at Wembley.

Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

That leaves the decision of who will partner Van Dijk at the heart of the defence. Joel Matip has been the preferred partner for a lot of the season.

Ibrahima Konate looks like a special player and has been brilliant when given the chance this season. But Matip is Klopp’s trusted man and we think that means the £35m signing from RB Leipzig will start on the bench.


Klopp also has some decisions to make in midfield. He surprisingly brought Curtis Jones back in from the start against Leeds and the 21-year-old demonstrated the depth that the manager has at his disposal.

But his first choice trio is relatively clear. Fabinho is crucial to any game Liverpool play, let alone those against the top sides in the country.

Thiago Alcantara is proving to be similarly important. It will be great to see him finally making his mark on a fixture of real importance to the club.

The Spaniard won countless trophies with Bayern Munich and Liverpool will need his experience against Chelsea.

Jordan Henderson is the only player in the Liverpool squad to have won this trophy. Earlier this season, Klopp called him ‘essential’ to everything Liverpool have won via MSN.

Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

As the captain, he’ll surely start this one after being on the bench against Leeds.


Options are slightly more limited for Liverpool’s front line. Klopp has remained coy on the availability of Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino.

Jota seems the player closer to full fitness. But unless there’s a major surprise, we expect Jurgen to go with the front three from the last two games.

Mohamed Salah, Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane have seven goals between them in the two games they’ve started together.

Photo by Richard Martin-Roberts – CameraSport via Getty Images

That isn’t a bad record to take into a cup final. There’s a chance for Salah and Mane to further cement their legendary status at the club.

Meanwhile, Diaz should get the opportunity to make a name for himself less than a month after arriving from Porto.

Bring it home, Reds!

Liverpool Carabao Cup final predicted XI: Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz

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