Jurgen Klopp handed golden chance to answer biggest Liverpool criticism against Chelsea in Carabao Cup final

Liverpool will face Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final after beating Arsenal as Jurgen Klopp aims to add more silverware to the Anfield trophy cabinet.

The hotels are already being booked. Trains are earmarked.

Fans desperate to get hold of a ticket have already started pestering their mates to see if they can get hold of any spares.

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Why? Because Liverpool are going to Wembley.

Return to Anfield South

And it’s not for a Community Shield appearance. Nor is it for a friendly against Barcelona.

This time, Kopites will descend on the national stadium - or Anfield South as many like to call it - for their first domestic cup final in six years.

The vast majority of the supporters’ focus is unsurprisingly on the Premier League and Champions League these days.

Yet the Reds are one win away from claiming the Carabao Cup after beating Arsenal 2-0 in the semi-finals.

Liverpool celebrate Diogo Jota’s second goal in their 2-0 win over Arsenal. Picture: John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

How refreshing does that sound? After all the European Super League guff last year, Liverpool fans are relishing the chance of competing for silverware on these parts.

A weekend in the big smoke paying for overpriced ale. That would never have happened had those abhorrent plans gone ahead.

The Carabao Cup might be the competition that's at the bottom of the priority list at the start of the season.

It might be the competition that's met with a shrug of the shoulders when wholesale changes are made in earlier rounds and empty seats at stadia are awash.

It certainly is not the competition that Mo Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Co were signed for Liverpool to challenge for.

Still, they’ll all be relishing a Wembley final. After all, these days don’t come around often. They’re the ones you remember most in your career.

Forget top-four finishes. Winners' medals are what players covet.

Klopp’s legacy

And it’s a chance for Jurgen Klopp to truly cement himself as an Anfield great.

Not that he isn’t already one. Of course, he is. Even if he lost every game from now until he leaves, his legacy is cemented.

Since arriving in October 2015, Klopp has re-established Liverpool as a European force.

He masterminded a sixth Champions League in the club’s history and reached another final.

The Reds could boast they were the best team on the planet when winning the Club World Cup in 2019.

And, most crucially, he ended the painful 30-year wait for a top-flight title the following year.

Everything Klopp was brought to Liverpool for, he has delivered with aplomb.

Jurgen Klopp hoists the Champions League trophy aloft. Picture: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Klopp’s biggest criticism

But if there is a slight on the former Borussia Dortmund chief, it’s that he may leave Anfield when his contract expires in 2024 having not won enough silverware.

For the abundance of quality and embarrassment of riches in the dressing room, perhaps they are a trophy or two shy during his six-plus year tenure.

That’s mainly because neither the Carabao Cup or the FA Cup has been won under Klopp.

Liverpool lost the final of the former in the German’s first season to Manchester City on penalties, along with being defeated in the Europa League final against Sevilla.

Meanwhile, in the FA Cup, the furthest they’ve got is the fifth round.

By Klopp’s admission, it hasn’t been a direct ploy to not challenge for either prize.

After the Arsenal victory, he steadfastly insisted that hasn’t been the case.

“The situation always depends on this time of the year, who is available, how many games did you play,” Klopp said.

“I cannot just pick a team if you don’t have a full squad on paper and go for these XI and let them play.

Jurgen Klopp dejected after Liverpool’s defeat to Manchester City in the League Cup final in 2016. Picture: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

“We have to consider a lot of things and we did that, but you need a bit of luck in specific moments to get through. We never had that and had pretty tricky draws early.

“It’s all good. We want to go for everything. We’re in the final, but it doesn’t mean we have won it already.

“When we are there, we will give it a go but unfortunately so will the opponent.”

A chance to answer the knockers

Nevertheless, it has been - and is - used as a criticism of Klopp by some.

It’s one of the few things you can scrutinise him over during his time on Merseyside.

Especially when Pep Guardiola has won the Carabao Cup four times and FA Cup at Manchester City while also competing in the league and in Europe.

But should Klopp engineer a ninth League Cup success in Liverpool’s history - and first since 2012 - he will certainly give the perfect riposte to those who have questioned him.