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Klopp threatens League Cup pull-out over fixture pile-up

Liverpool’s Curtis Jones is congratulated by Jurgen Klopp after scoring the winning penalty against Arsenal © AFP / Paul ELLIS

LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom, Oct 31Jurgen Klopp has warned Liverpool could pull out of the League Cup if the English Football League do not help with their hectic fixture schedule.

Klopp’s side moved into the quarter-finals after an incredible 5-5 draw against Arsenal and 5-4 penalty shoot-out victory at Anfield on Wednesday.

Liverpool trailed 3-1, 4-2 and then 5-4 in the final seconds before Divock Origi’s equaliser forced a shoot-out that was won by locally born teenager Curtis Jones.

It was a superb advert for the tournament, but Liverpool might not be appearing in the League Cup again this season unless Klopp’s fears over a fixture pile-up are soothed.

Match dates for the quarter-finals are scheduled for the week commencing December 16, when Liverpool will be in Qatar at the FIFA Club World Cup.

And Reds boss Klopp said if a suitable alternative, the most likely being the week commencing January 6, the scheduled date for the first leg of the semi-final, is not found then they would refuse to play.

“FIFA told us the Club World Cup will be there (Qatar) and we have to come there and we will do,” Klopp told reporters.

“The Premier League tells us we have to play in the Premier League, which we do obviously.

“The Carabao (League) Cup, if they don’t find an appropriate place for us – not 3am on Christmas Day – then we don’t play it.

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“If you have a fixture list where one team cannot be part of all the games, then you have to think about the fixture list.

“Hopefully it starts now. I really think that’s fair, and this problem is obvious now.

“We will not be the victim of this problem. We play tonight, we wanted to win it, we did that, and if they don’t find a proper date for us, then we cannot play the next round and whoever is our opponent will go through – or Arsenal play them.”

It seems highly unlikely the EFL would run the risk of allowing Klopp to carry out his threat, considering the commercial and television appeal the record eight-time winners of the competition carry.

But Klopp has put the ball firmly in the organisation’s court and given then plenty of warning of the potential consequences.

Ironically, Liverpool feared they might be kicked out of the competition after fielding an ineligible player in the previous round against Milton Keynes Dons.

But instead the Champions League holders were fined for playing Spanish midfielder Pedro Chirivella, who didn’t have international clearance.

Meanwhile, under-fire Arsenal boss Unai Emery defended his decision to take off Mesut Ozil in the second half.

Ozil, making only his third appearance of the season, had a hand in three of Arsenal’s goals, but Emery still took off the German midfielder.

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The move came days after Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka swore at fans when he was booed following his substitution against Crystal Palace.

“We had decided beforehand (to take off Ozil). He worked well in 65 minutes. We are going to play on Saturday and in my mind there’s the possibility to use him again,” Emery said.

“Ozil played very well. He played a very good match.”

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