Team News: Klopp made ten changes from the 2-2 draw against Sunderland, with only Emre Can keeping his place. Lucas, Karius and Origi were the other first team players involved, as the likes of Ejaria and Woodburn were both given another chance to impress the manager.

Liverpool XI: Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Lucas, Moreno, Stewart, Can, Ejaria, Woodburn, Origi, Ojo

Subs Used: Sturridge, Firmino, Lallana

Liverpool were held to a frustrating goalless draw by Plymouth at Anfield, a result that forces a replay for Jurgen Klopp’s team in the middle of an already congested month, with two midweek league cup fixtures already on the calendar.

Honestly this was a dire game of football, with Liverpool’s youngsters failing miserably to impress on the biggest stage for the most part. The first half was bright enough, with chances falling to Ben Woodburn courtesy of some excellent slaloming, and Sheyi Ojo with a headed opportunity. But after Divock Origi was penalised for being overly physical as he slammed the ball into the back of the net, things took a turn for the worse in the second half.

Frustration clearly set in early, as Liverpool resorted to lumping the ball into the box, a tactic that didn’t seem as likely to work in the last minute as it did in the first. Countless set pieces, probably over twenty corners and free kicks in all, were cleared with ease by Plymouth, either because of a poor cross or just a lack of height from the home side.

Either way, Klopp sensibly introduced Daniel Sturridge to mix things up, and he almost immediately made an impact, driving a shot just wide. But Liverpool failed to play to Sturridge’s strengths and were reduced to a plethora of long shots and crosses from wide. It was a headless display that didn’t improve after Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino were tossed into the fray.

Plymouth themselves offered very little in the way of counterattacking threat, a free kick from 30 yards straight at Karius their only shot on target, although they did also create one decent chance in the channel late on, resulting in a shot across goal that never threatened Karius.

But after a promising start to the game Liverpool faded far too quickly and although a late set piece was deflected into the arms of the goalkeeper, truthfully there were very few moments in this game where Liverpool looked like scoring, and Woodburn’s early chance was probably the best one that they created.

Key Talking Points:

  1. The kids are alright (but not at their best) Six youth players were thrust into the starting eleven, including returns from injury for Joe Gomez and Sheyi Ojo. And whilst none of the youngsters played actively badly, none of the youngsters that Klopp entrusted repaid the faith that their manager showed them, with Ovie Ejaria the most impressive performer overall.
  2. Fixtures pile up for Klopp’s Reds The number you’ll hear thrown about is that Liverpool may have to play nine games in January: four league games, two league cup games, and if we win the replay against Plymouth, three FA cup games. Southampton are next up, followed by Manchester United, which means that Klopp may have to rest players again in midweek, and now it looks like they won’t have a single free midweek until February at the earliest.
  3. Goalkeeper situation remains unchanged Whilst on the one hand, Loris Karius will have been grateful for a quiet day at the office, he will also be frustrated that he wasn’t given a single chance to prove his worth to Klopp. Mignolet has had a few days like this one since returning to the side, but Karius needs to reassert his own strengths, and sadly this game gave him no opportunities whatsoever to do so.

Player Ratings:

Loris Karius – 6/10: Had to catch the ball a couple of times from range and pass the ball out of the back occasionally, but truthfully he might as well have been on the field at all, he was needed so little in this game.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6/10: One of the more impressive of Liverpool’s youngsters. Overall turned in a very Clyne-esque performance. Asked to do nothing defensively but put in one or two really good crosses.

Joe Gomez – 6/10: Back from injury and turned in a rusty performance overall, caught out by pace once or twice on the Plymouth counter but his passing game was good and he stepped out of the back well.

Lucas Leiva – 6/10: Looked like he might be exposed once or twice on the rare occasions Plymouth isolated him but again solid on the ball, dictating play from the back. Had a couple of shots from range.

Alberto Moreno – 5/10: The amount of bad set piece taking and outright bad crosses is simply baffling. Some of his balls into the box weren’t terrible, but overall he was decidedly frustrating. Off the ball he looked shaky as well.

Kevin Stewart – 6/10: Some good recoveries and did well to win the ball back on a number of occasions. But wasted so many opportunities in and around the box either by taking an unnecessary and poor shot or a bad pass in a key area.

Emre Can – 7/10: Liverpool were noticeably worse when he departed. Best passer on the pitch when he was on it, produced some good runs and good passes. Made things happen.

Ovie Ejaria – 7/10: Easily the best performer amongst Liverpool’s youngsters. Passed the ball well, kept things moving and looked good up to a point. Just couldn’t make things happen on his own though.

Ben Woodburn – 6/10: Some neat turns and slaloming runs, including one that carved out the game’s best chance. Maybe a tad unlucky but equally unable to create much for team-mates. 

Divock Origi – 5/10: One of the experienced heads and he offered very little for the team. Goal rightfully disallowed for fouling the defender. Very, very poor day at the office.

Sheyi Ojo – 5/10: Offered absolutely nothing. Made some decent runs but always in front of Plymouth rather than penetrating. Missed two crucial headed chances that would have won the game for his team.

 Subs used:

Daniel Sturridge – 6/10: Looked lively after coming on but feeding off scraps from his team. Plymouth sat too deep to let him penetrate in behind and forced to shoot from range.

Roberto Firmino – 6/10: Couple of nice turns and passes but very little to shout about in his cameo appearance.

Adam Lallana – 6/10: Somehow ended up with three key passes after coming on, which is odd because he didn’t really seem to make anything happen. Couldn’t change the flow of the game.

Man of the Match: Emre Can

Written by Tom Holmes

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