London is Red after Liverpool defeats Chelsea in the Carabao Cup

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Noah Mauriello, Contributing Writer

The EFL Cup, also known as the Carabao Cup, is an annual tournament that crowns the best English football club.  It features the top four English leagues, includes up to ninety-two teams, and is generally won by a team in England’s top division: the Premier League.  This season, Chelsea and Liverpool competed in the championship game; both teams are among the clubs with the top three records in the Premier League, and Liverpool especially has been dominating opponents.  However, the injury-riddled Chelsea has played at a high level despite setbacks and has caused many tactical and strategic problems for opponents in recent weeks.

In the final of the EFL CUP, Chelsea and Liverpool went into penalties scoreless.  In an unusually competitive shoot-out, goals were scored twenty-one consecutive times before an eventual miss.  With a final score of 0-0 (10-11), Liverpool claimed its ninth title in the tournament, a record setter. 

In the first 120 minutes of the match, Chelsea goalie Edouard Mendy was the Man of the Match, denying the Reds on key chances time after time.  However, his teammates were struggling on the other side of the pitch.  Mason Mount, one of the best youngsters in the Premier League, missed two difficult scoring opportunities.  In addition, Christian Pulisic, Romelu Lukaku, and Timo Werner, the top forwards of the team, spoiled key offensive chances with a staggering seven offsides penalties and failed to facilitate the ball.  

Liverpool should have ended the match before it went to penalties, outshooting Chelsea twenty to eleven; however, their shots on goal only exceeded Chelsea’s by two.  This level of inaccuracy cost the Reds, as they could have won the game 2-0, had they finished their possessions.  There was still no denying their dominance, as their eleven corner kicks made Chelsea’s two look futile.  

What truly kept this game even throughout the match was the time of possession.  Both teams are used to running away with their weekly matchups, and with a 55 to 45 split of possession, it is clear how even this game was.  

“Simply put, Chelsea was better on defense and Liverpool was better on offense.  But neither team was good enough to have an advantage,” said junior Gabe Pietrucki. 

Eventually, the match came down to penalties, and Chelsea brought out their “shootout specialist” in the net, Kepa Arrizbalaga.  Many questioned this decision given both how outstanding of a keeper Eduoard Mendy is, as well as stunning shut-out in goal during the championship game.  Normally, a manager would sub in a new keeper with a few minutes left in the match to ensure time to warm-up and to prepare for the shoot-out.

Through the first five penalties on each side, there were no misses.  

“I know hindsight is 20/20, but if you’re going to take out your superstar keeper in a tourney final, the sub better not let all five through to start the penalties,” said junior Max Weintraub. 

The next five shots after told the same story, with all shots hitting the back of the net.  All who were rooting for Chelsea or against Liverpool were furious with Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel’s decision to install Kepa in goal.  Liverpool’s keeper for the match, Caoimhin Kelleher, lined up for a shot against Kepa, and he drilled it.  Kepa then needed a save, but instead, let in a goal, giving the Carabao Cup title to Liverpool.

Chelsea fans were deservingly frustrated, as it is easy to assume Mendy would have not let up eleven straight penalties.  However, Kepa is known for his late game heroics, but not every performance will be stellar.  

“Tuchel is a great manager, but he needed to let Kepa settle in.  Either bring him in early or don’t bring him in at all,” said junior Jaden Callender.  

Overall, this match was one to remember, with no scoring through one hundred-twenty minutes, yet twenty-one goals in the shoot-out.  Neither team proved to have the upper hand, yet Liverpool emerged as the champion.