In truth, an empty Anfield failed to stage a classic contest, as Liverpool and Arsenal played out an instantly forgettable 0-0 draw.
Here’s some of the best analysis from the media following the Reds’ cup exit.
The general consensus was that Klopp won’t be too perturbed by an early cup exit…
The Liverpool Echo‘s Paul Gorst believes there are more important assignments that lie ahead…
Liverpool were in this competition for just a week before their exit was confirmed. But while one trophy has now already fallen by the wayside for Klopp, he will lose little sleep on Thursday night once the frustration has subsided by the time he reaches his Merseyside home.
And on the day the Champions League draw was made to pit the six-time winners against Ajax, Atalanta and FC Midtjylland in Group D, the focus will quickly return to the biggest prizes at stake for the Reds.
In short, Klopp has never devalued the League Cup, but he won’t be too despondent at seeing his packed schedule somewhat eased by the midweek gaps that now await Liverpool.
ESPN‘s Rob Dawson took a similar stance, saying the result could benefit Liverpool further down the line:
Winners in 2012 and runners-up as recently as 2016, there was a time when the League Cup in its many different guises was a focal point of their campaign, but not now. Not after winning the Champions League and the Premier League in back-to-back years.
He (Klopp) will not be too disappointed when the Carabao Cup quarterfinals and semifinals are both crammed into the hectic Christmas schedule.
His players will have their feet up when Arsenal are taking on Man City in the last eight in late December. Klopp is not the type to admit to being happy after a defeat and even though it was not the result Liverpool wanted, he will look back in May and accept it was what they needed.
No match is one you want to lose but some are better to lose than others. Liverpool have now failed to win against Arsenal in three of the last four games against them but have won the one which matters most to us.
Here ends another League Cup season for Liverpool. It may well have done some of its job but it is a shame to think of Liverpool’s players going home disappointed.
Let’s get to December 22 without it happening again.
Liverpool’s two Williams, Neco and Rhys, continued to enhance their reputations…
The Echo‘s Ian Doyle felt both defenders came away with plenty of credit at Anfield:
The vocal minority will always make the loudest noise and, in the wake of last week’s Carabao Cup win at Lincoln City, Neco Williams found himself in the firing line.
The 19-year-old more than held his own against Arsenal’s £72million man Pepe with a determined, resilient defensive display and, crucially, was more composed when in possession.
Alongside him, namesake Rhys Williams was similarly impressive on his first Anfield start, less reliant on Virgil van Dijk compared to last week and growing in confidence during the second half when alongside Joe Gomez.
Atkinson was of a similar thought process:
I liked the showings from both Williamses. Rhys did very well indeed on the cover and read the game well. Neco was excellent in support on the right flank and made some crucial blocks and interceptions.
The focus is what impressed from both against some serious footballers.
A couple of other Liverpool players also received praise…
On an otherwise uneventful evening, Jurgen Klopp will have been buoyed by the performance of new boy Diogo Jota. The forward followed up his debut goal with another impressive showing against The Gunners.
He looked lively and was involved in pretty much all of Liverpool’s good work going forward. Jota almost got his name on the scoresheet too, but for the superb interventions of Leno.
A promising start to his Reds career.
Doyle expects Marko Grujic to move on before the transfer deadline, but feels keeping hold of him would be no disaster:
Arsenal offered a much more stern challenge (than Lincoln City). And he more than met it, helping Liverpool dominate the engine room battle while also proving a threat in the Gunners area at set-pieces with his height.
The Reds remain open to offers for Grujic with Borussia Moenchengladbach in the box seat to strike a deal before Monday night’s transfer deadline. This performance will have at least strengthened Liverpool’s hand at the negotiating table.
And, if the asking price isn’t met, Klopp will know he has another defensive midfield option he can trust.
TIA’s Alex Malone was also complimentary of Grujic, singling him out as the pick of Liverpool’s midfielders at Anfield:
In midfield, where the Reds now have an embarrassment of experienced, top-quality riches, the manger was able – and confident enough – to play three young lads with something to prove in Marko Grujic, Wilson and to a lesser extent, Curtis Jones.
All three played their part and were quietly efficient and effective throughout in keeping the ball moving, industry and protecting the back five – and isn’t that exactly the Klopp blueprint for an effective midfield.
A special mention for Grujic who grew more and more influential in the final third as the game progressed and has certainly boosted his stock in these two appearances in this competition.