Five things learned as Liverpool progress on penalties against Stoke City

Paisley Gateway

Liverpool progressed to the final of the League Cup following a 6-5 win on penalties against Stoke City.

Liverpool made it through to the League Cup final for the first time since 2012 - going one better than they did in the competition last season.

The Reds may have been disappointed not to get through in normal time as Marko Arnautovic's controversial goal gave the Potters in the win in 90 minutes, and was enough to take the game all way to extra time and the lottery of penalties. 

Two saves from Simon Mignolet in the shoot-out meant the under-fire Belgian got some credit in the bank and some plaudits, while Joe Allen's renaissance continued as he held his nerve to dispatch the winning penalty.

The game in reality was pretty uneventful, so was there much to be learned? Here's five things we may have done:

Liverpool's game management leaves something to be desired

A dull first half, 0-0 in added time. The logical thing for Liverpool to do would be to just kill the first half and regroup. Instead of trying to kill time, the side bizarrely tried to get on with the game pretty quickly, lost possession, leading to Stoke scoring and all the nerve jangling that went with it. In all honesty, it's something a lot of us could've done without.

The Reds seem to struggle to get that third consecutive win with the squad in its current state

Injuries, lack of striking options, a lot of things can play their part here - but Liverpool really do struggle for that third good performance in a week, or third win. There have been two occasions when the Reds have got that third consecutive win under their belts but one has been a nervy 1-0 and the other was against a poor Rubin Kazan side - which finished by the same scoreline. One must appreciate, however, that it is hard for the side to get three good, high-intensity performances out of themselves three games on the bounce.

Significant hurdle for the side has been cleared

Players in this Liverpool squad have been through a near miss on the Premier League title and were knocked out of the cup competitions at the semi-final stage last season. Even though it was in a very nervy way, it does feel a significant hurdle has been overcome. If they had gone out then there will have been a lot of questions asked about the mentality of the side even with a manager like Jurgen Klopp at the helm.

The Reds can defend set-pieces and a physical threat, they just need to do it more often

Stoke City seemed to tear up everything about them that has made them good this season as they went for aerial bombardment because it seemed Liverpool were weak in that particular area. Liverpool came through the set-pieces unscathed - even if there was the odd warning sign that any side gets. It's clear that some frank discussions have taken place between the manager and the players regarding that particular area of their game.

Klopp now knows which players can hold their nerve

It's amazing what you can learn from penalty kicks, and Jurgen Klopp will know which players he can rely on to hold their nerve - when he gets round to watching them that is. Joe Allen may not get much game time but showed the biggest amount of bottle of all, Simon Mignolet showed at least one aspect as to why he got a new deal, Adam Lallana missed his last penalty for Liverpool and was prepared to take the first one, while James Milner had a sudden death penalty dispatched with the confidence as if he was on the training ground. Emre Can, however, looked a bag of nerves both with his spot-kick and performance, and it looks as though he needs to relax.

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