This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Jurgen Klopp’s decision to renew his faith in Caoimhin Kelleher paid off against Arsenal as the goalkeeper produced a tie-winning moment in the penalty shootout.
The 20-year-old got the nod to start ahead of Adrian, which surprised fans, and he now looks to be Liverpool’s number one choice in the League Cup after starting the first two fixtures in the competition.
It was a call that appeared to backfire early on in the game as the Northern Ireland U21 international was at fault for two of the visitors’ goals, twice palming a shot into the path of an opposition player to score from the rebound.
That could have damaged his confidence, and indeed he won’t be happy to concede five goals, but he turned things around following the full-time whistle and his save from Dani Ceballos’ penalty will do him the world of good.
To produce such a huge moment in front of the Kop at his age would have been a dream come true, and the confidence he should take from this will be massive, and could serve him well in the future.
Klopp deserves credit as it would have been an easy choice to go with Adrian given the form he had shown previously this season.
Typically the best way for youngsters to develop is by getting a taste of the action.
Kelleher made sloppy errors against Arsenal but he should come out on the other side as a better player for it.
At youth level he may not have been punished, as the quick-thinking of the Arsenal forwards is likely a step-up from what he is accustomed to in Premier League 2, and thus it is less of a concern if Kelleher doesn’t palm the ball away properly when playing for the U23s.
He also showed a weakness in Arsenal’s fourth goal, lacking anticipation to reach James Milner’s poor backpass, but that slight blunder should stimulate an improvement in his reading of the game and concentration.
Despite the faults, he will be encouraged by playing with and learning from more experienced defenders like Milner and Joe Gomez.
Above all though is the penalty save, and that moment under the Anfield lights should give him a real boost as well as the determination to impress again.