Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists he is happy to cede any home advantage and play in a one-off Carabao Cup semi-final to ease the burden on his players.
After a 5-4 penalty shoot-out victory over Leicester, set up by Takumi Minamino’s goal in the fifth minute of added time to make it 3-3, Klopp’s side were drawn against Arsenal in the last four.
The two-legged affair is due to be played in the weeks commencing January 3 and 10 but that comes after a run of five matches in 12 days for Liverpool and Klopp is not keen on the additional workload being placed on his squad.
“I think it would be better with one game absolutely, but obviously what I say is not too important,” he said after making 10 changes for the quarter-final with three academy players in his starting line-up and five on the bench.
“If there are two games, then we will play two games. But it would be helpful if there was only one, true.
“The draw has us at Arsenal, I’m fine with that, we play there and see who is better and go for it.
“I don’t just speak about player welfare this year, I have been speaking about it for six years or maybe longer.
“If the things I say would help more, I would say it much more often. But it doesn’t help.
“The only thing I do with these messages is I create headlines. They never arrive at the right places.
“Tomorrow we have a meeting at 4pm but it’s with the Premier League and not with the EFL, I’m not sure if they are involved or not.
“I said it before, I would prefer only one semi-final. But I can’t see any kind of changes actually.”
Klopp praised second-choice goalkeeper and shoot-out hero Caoimhin Kelleher for ‘saving our life’.
The 23-year-old may have been exposed for two of Leicester’s three first-half goals but he made crucial saves in the second half, setting up Minamino’s dramatic late goal, his sixth in five League Cup appearances.
Klopp said: “It is not the first time he was part of these spectacular games, against Arsenal (the 2019 5-5 League Cup draw which they won on penalties) it was similar but this a step forward and he saved our life, he was really helpful tonight.”
Leicester left Anfield kicking themselves having twice squandered a two-goal lead.
Jamie Vardy (two) and James Maddison had made it 2-0 and 3-1 to Leicester only for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Diogo Jota and Minamino to respond.
“You saw in the second half the injuries we picked up, we had to change the structure of the team,” said manager Brendan Rodgers, who revealed Vardy played the last half-hour with a tight hamstring which prevented him taking a penalty.
“First half we were excellent and looked a real threat. To come to Anfield and score three goals, we really should have got four or five.
“Defensively you know you are going to have to suffer at times with the quality they have.
“In the second half we threw everything at it and it just looked at the end we were going to get through.
“To concede in the 95th minute I was so disappointed for the players, they put so much into the game.”