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Results & Fixtures: Under-21s
|Aston Villa U21
Alex Inglethorpe and the U21's light schedule continued into December with only two regularly scheduled fixtures. With only two scheduled in January as well, the club may look to add some international friendlies as they did in October. But for now, they can play only who is in front of them to try to continue their hot form, and the side beat a talented but underperforming Aston Villa under 21 team who, despite winning last year NextGen series, are languishing near the bottom of the Barclay's Under 21 Premier League table. Liverpool thoroughly dominated, with the midfield trio of Cameron Brannagan, Jordan Lussey, and Jordan Rossiter clearing the way for Joao Carlos Teixeira and Brad Smith to create chances galore for strikers Samed Yesil and Michael Ngoo. Ngoo's goal was the result of some excellent play down the left by Smith, while Teixeira's class was evident throughout, and he assisted Yesil's goal.
In their next match, Liverpool quickly fell down 2-0 thanks in part to an extremely weak penalty, but fought back before halftime with goals from Rossiter and Jordon Ibe. Ibe, in particular, continues to show immense dribbling and chance creation abilities, while Teixeira and Rossiter truly stand out in most matches. Bolton, of course, eventually grabbed the winner in the 84th minute to spoil the day for Liverpool, but a decent performance nonetheless left Inglethorpe mildly content.
Liverpool continue to sit in 4th place in the league, with a game in hand.
Next Match: Monday, January 13th, 4:00pm BST/11:00am EST, at home against Blackburn Rovers, live on LFC.tv.
Results & Fixtures: Under-18s
|Manchester United U18
|Sinclair x2, O'Hanlon
|Barclay's U18 Premier League
|Manchester City U18
|Barclay's U18 Premier League
|W 3-3 (4-3)
|Ibe x2, Ojo
|FA Youth Cup
Neil Critchley's high flying under-18s continued their great league run with a big win over Manchester United. Liverpool fell behind early on in the first half, but goals from Sinclair and O'Hanlon turned the game around, and Sheyi Ojo, who has been starting to show some of his immense potential, truly took hold of the game in the second half and could have had two goals. Sinclair's final, excellent goal sealed the win for the young lads.
In their next match, the U18s fielded a weakened side against Manchester City, but led 2-1 most of the game due to goals by O'Hanlon and Trickett-Smith, but 2 goals in stoppage time left the young reds devastated. It was a big game between 1st and 4th place in the league, so this loss certainly hurts Liverpool in the table.
Finally, Liverpool's under 18s played Blackpool yesterday in the FA Youth Cup 3rd round (highlights) in what turned out to be an exhilarating match. The bad weather contributed to a choppy, inconsistent affair, but Jordon Ibe was able to demonstrate what he is all about with two excellent goals. The first was a slaloming run from halfway (video below), while the second was from a fantastic through ball from Rossiter. After each goal, however, Blackpool fought back, once with an absolutely stunning goal from 30 yards out, and again from sloppy defending on a corner. After 90 frustrating minutes, the match went to extra time, where Blackpool took the lead on another outstanding goal, as Donomic Telford Luis Suarezed Ryan Crump and, though my string of names in this sentence has come to an end, chipped Liverpool's young keeper from about 35 yards. The reds however managed to stay determined, and Sheyi Ojo produced a bit of magic of his own, firing past the Blackpool keeper from outside the area, to send the match into penalties, where Ryan Crump's two outstanding saves fired Liverpool into the next round.
On the face of it, Jordon Ibe is too good for U18 football, and maybe for U21 football as well. His dribbling ability is unquestionably outstanding. However, the time is coming soon for him to start improving his decision making if he is to make the step up to Liverpool's first team. A consistent feature of his game has been dribbling into dangerous areas but failing to spot an open teammate and/or release the ball in time to him. Of course, he only just turned 18, so he's in an extremely good place, but we, and Inglethorpe, are correct in holding him to the extremely high standard he himself has set. Inglethorpe has stated on multiple occasions that Ibe can be as good as he wants to be, so this is an area of his development we will continue to keep an eye out for.
The U18s still sit at 4th place in their portion of the league table.
Next Match: Saturday, January 11th, 12:30pm BST/7:30am EST, at home against Middlesborough, live on LFC.tv.
News & Notes
Noel already covered this superbly, so I won't add too much. I simply wanted to provide some video evidence of these lads' talent. These are both excellent prospects—for Rossiter to be as good as he is at 16 is just scary—but I think Smith is at the top of my list of ready-to-contribute youth players Liverpool has, given his own readiness, as well as the lack of fullback depth of the first-team. The Rossiter video from August is the best quality I could find on YouTube, but he has really come on since then in a box-to-box role.
Do you guys remember Brendan Rodgers going on and on about unearthing a hidden gem while on tour in Australia? Looks like it is now known who he was talking about. 15 year old Jake Brimmer, who is considered to be one of Australia's finest prospects, was seen on trial with Liverpool in recent weeks and is reportedly close to joining Liverpool's academy. I can't claim to know anything about this lad, but of course it's great to see Liverpool bringing in some of America B's best talent, and hopefully we'll get a better glimpse of him in coming months.