Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has praised goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher following the Cork man’s impressive display in the Reds’ 0-2 victory against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup semi-final on Thursday night.
The Republic of Ireland international returned to the starting line-up for the return fixture after he was benched for the first leg at Anfield last week between the sides that ended 0-0.
However, Kelleher put in an assured performance at the Emirates stadium to help seal Liverpool’s place in the decider with Chelsea next month.
Speaking after the victory and ahead of his team’s Premier League clash against Crystal Palace on Sunday, Klopp said that he was pleased with Kelleher yet again.
“We’re more than happy with him, absolutely, ” said Klopp. “This is a [goalkeeping coach] John Achterberg project. There were a lot of steps to go [when] I arrived here [in 2015] and saw him for the first time – a skinny boy from Ireland. Standing in his big goal, it was like, ‘okay… it could take a while until he fills it in’.
“Since then he’s made incredible steps and now he is a top-class goalie, definitely. Calm… good with the ball, and on top of that, he makes incredible saves. We are more than happy to have him.”
Despite the win against Mikel Arteta’s in-form Gunners giving Liverpool supporters a first trip to Wembley to look forward to since they last reached the final in Klopp’s first season in 2016 (other than two Community Shield fixtures in 2019 and 2020), the German was quick to shrug off any suggestions that his players will be celebrating their run to the decider.
“Last night we were flying. It gives us confidence because of everything which was said about us without the boys (Africa Cup of Nations absentees Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita) who are not available at the moment.
“We are not kids anymore and will (not) be celebrating for the next four weeks, we just take the feeling and can hopefully use it.
“We feel good in this moment, but we have to create a different mood until Sunday because Crystal Palace away – they don’t make presents.
“We have to be in this fighting mood again and we will be. But we have to be greedy again, aggressive in a football way again and fight with all we have as Crystal Palace will ask for that.
“That is what I am concerned about, not so much how can we keep this feeling for the next four weeks until we play the final.
“We are really looking forward to it (the final) but the only problem is there are six or seven games to play before then.
“We have to put it aside a little bit but keep the feeling because it was good.”
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain missed the trip to his former club due to an ankle injury he sustained in the 3-0 win against Brentford last weekend but Klopp is hopeful that the man who arrived from Arsenal in 2017 will be fit for Sunday’s game at Selhurst Park.
“Ox, we hope and pray. He was running yesterday but we don’t know what that exactly means for today.
“It would be helpful if he could train before the game. I don’t know yet.”
Liverpool face Crystal Palace on Sunday at 2pm with live coverage on Sky Sports Premier League.