This weekend the world stopped and witnessed the no.1 domestic cup in World Football – The FA Cup. Liverpool’s youngest ever starting line-up in the club’s history were held to a frustrating draw against League Two side Plymouth Argyle.
- The hosts, whose side had an average age of 21 years old.
- 80.3% possession in the first half.
- The total of the starting 11 shirt numbers was a massive 368.
- 3rd time in 12 months Liverpool haven’t scored at home.
- Liverpool had 10 changes from the draw at Sunderland on Monday, only Can keeping his place in the side.
- Joe Gomez returning to first-team action for the first time since 1 October.
- Ben Woodburn made his first start for the club.
- Five teenagers started – Joe Gomez, Woodburn, Ojo, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ovie Ejaria.
Settled into the game well
Rather surprisingly Liverpool were allowed to ease into the game as Plymouth sat deep and didn’t put any pressure on the ball. The young team grew in stature and confidence as time went on. Despite enjoying 87.2% of the possession during the first 15 minutes they could not find the creativity to break down the 10 man defence. The 4-5-1 formation with their focus on containment rather than posing any attacking threat.
Liverpool had a few chances, abeit frustrating half-chances. Ojo miscued a header from close range when he looked set to score. Ejaria and Stewart both shot wide from outside the box. Origi also had a goal disallowed for a foul on Gary Miller.
Liverpool had totally dominated the first-half, having had a massive 80% of the possession, sadly the young team had nothing to show on the score board for it. Further evidence of the dominance was demonstrated by the fact Liverpool midfielder Stewart had completed as many passes as the entire Plymouth team.
2nd half – hoping for an improvement
There was an improvement in the second half, however it was the visitors who were now enjoying more time on the ball as Liverpool lost their way. A sliced shot from Jordan Slew that went well wide was greeted with cheers – it was their first shot!! Graham Carey who started to have more time on the ball tested Karius with a free-kick.
Liverpool continued to threaten throughout, but their final ball was awful, seemingly happy to put the ball in the box without testing McCormick.
Bringing on the big guns
Sturridge was introduced on the hour mark and immediately went close with a shot that went narrowly went wide. Klopp introduced Lallana and Firmino as they attempted to finally put the ball in the net.
Sturridge sent a 25-yard shot just wide, looped a header over and fired into the side-netting – but the Reds could not find the cutting edge to break down an organised and disciplined Plymouth.
Tanner would have been clean through on the Liverpool goal but for a Kevin Stewart challenge. Gomez caught napping briefly after what had been a quiet first game back for him.
This month Liverpool have three Premier League games and a two-legged EFL Cup semi-final against Southampton. Klopp had said before the game he could be criticised if his team selection had backfired. Another fixture would not have been top of Jurgen Klopp’s wishlist.
Some would ask it a negative result? The kids will probably play again at Plymouth, who at home will be more open. Exposure and experience is good think for them and help their development.
It’s always difficult making these decisions, hopefully the eleven fresh players on Wednesday will justify the decision made today.
What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment.
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