Liverpool Academy Update: November 30th Edition

The first of hopefully many shots of Pedro Chirivella on this site. And yes, he is the Spain U17 captain - Thorsten Wagner

A day later than promised, here is the second of a two-part Liverpool youth update, catching up on some results from the past month or so down with the U21s and U18s, with a strong emphasis on showing you, rather than telling you, how it went down.

Recent Updates: November 28th | October 28th | October 10th | October 1st
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Results & Fixtures: Under-21s
Date Opponent Result Liverpool Goalscorers
11/4 Middlesborough U21 W 4-3 Roddan, Teixeira x2, Rossiter
11/12 Sevilla U21 D 1-1 Peterson
11/27 PSV U21 W 3-1 Rossiter, Brannagan, Peterson

The lack of matches scheduled for Alex Inglethorpe's Under-21 side has been a recent topic of conversation, and as discussed earlier in the year, really came to the fore in November. With only three league matches scheduled for December and two in January, it isn't going to get much better. Fortunately, the club has been proactive and has scheduled friendlies against academies around Europe, which is something they'll need to do more of to keep the lads fit, fresh, and sharp.

In the lone league match on the schedule Liverpool raced to a 3-0 lead, before seesawing their way to a 4-3 victory over Middlesborough (highlights below). Teixeira continued his fine form since recovering from injury, Jordan Rossiter showed glimpses of discovering his goalscoring form which was rather prolific for the U15s and U16s, and Jordon Ibe shone throughout, setting up 3 of the goals.

In the two international friendlies scheduled, young sides were fielded and competitive matches were held between Liverpools U21s and both Sevilla and PSV. Traveling to both Spain and the Netherlands will have been a great experience for the lads, and especially Harry Wilson and Ryan Kent, two of the younger members of the traveling squad to Spain. These matches were similarly important for injury recovery purposes, as Martin Kelly played 90 minutes against Sevilla and Samed Yesil returned to the side against PSV.

The U21s are now in fourth place in the league with a game in hand.

Next Match: Monday, December 2nd, 7:00pm BST/2:00pm EST, at home against Aston Villa, live on LFC.tv.

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Results & Fixtures: Under-18s
Date Opponent Result Liverpool Goalscorers
10/29 Middlesborough U18 D 1-1 Wilson
11/2 Reading U18 W 4-2 Wilson x2, Sinclair (Pen), O'Hanlon
11/9 Stoke City U18 W 3-1 Sinclair, Brewitt, OG
11/16 Sunderland U18 W 3-1 Ojo, Sinclair, OG
11/27 Wolves U18 W 2-0 O'Hanlon, Canos
11/27 Everton U18 L 1-3 Sinclair (Pen)
11/30 Newcastle U18 D 3-3 Kent, Sinclair, Wilson

Neil Critchley had his team on an upward swing as of last time we checked in, and as you can see from the table above, the newly appointed U18 coach found his feet and got the lads firing on all cylinders over the past month. No need to get deep into the results, as match recaps and video highlights are available on the official site (highly encouraged viewing, mind), but there are quite a few developments worth mentioning.

First, as alluded to previously, there is absolutely a new generation of attacking talent coming through at this level. Ryan Kent, Harry Wilson, Jerome Sinclair, and Sergi Canos, among others, are an absolute joy to watch. The first two are exceptional with the ball at their feet, and torment defenders on a regular basis. Sinclair has been making steady progress on his comeback from injury, and has been scoring at nearly a goal a game for the past month. Canos's international clearance finally came through relatively recently, and he got his first start against Wolves, scoring with an absolutely stunning display of pace, touch, and composure.

Other highlights have included Pedro Chirivella's steady inclusion in the center of midfield, and by all accounts he's provided a calm, composed presence, as well as Sheyi Ojo, who is starting to fulfill the promise many have seen him in in the past year or so. Still only 16 years old, Ojo is a fantastic athlete, and is now beginning to bring some end product to his game.

Onto the not-so great. The defending and goalkeeping has been relatively poor all season, though somewhat improved recently. The U18s propensity to allow late equalizers, which happened as recently as this morning, is of some concern to Critchley, but the attack-first mentality is fairly apparent. One wonders if it's a deliberate tactic, which I for one would not necessarily be opposed to. In a transfer environment in which top class attackers cost significantly more than top-class defenders, It is much more cost-effective to produce top attacking talent than to produce top defending talent.

Finally, a quick mention of the mini-derby played last week. The match itself was disappointing from Liverpool's perspective, as they played well but conceded cheap chances and wasted their own opportunities. Everton's Joe Williams was dismissed for a shocking tackle on Pedro Chirivella showed below. No, it's not the first tackle shown in the video, which in itself was quite poor, it's the second one. Aside from the guttural groans and instinctive disgust this video inspires given our standing as Liverpool supporters in the wake of Kevin Mirallas, Kung Fu Master, this incident brings up an important topic. Last season, Marc Pelosi's leg was shattered by a horrible challenge, pausing his career just at a moment when he was on the cusp of training with the first team. Chirivella thankfully is fine after these two tackles, but could have been seriously hurt. Youth players face similar ramifications to straight red cards that senior team members do, so Joe Williams won't play for 3 matches, but it's starting to feel like more needs to be done, that harsher penalties must be dished out, to stamp this sort of behavior out of the game at an early stage.

Following their fantastic string of results, the U18s have climbed to 4th place in their portion of the league table.

Next Match: Saturday, December 7th, 11:00am BST/6:00am EST, at home against Manchester United, live on LFC.tv.

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