Having navigated a few tricky visits to contending sides during the first half of the 2016-17 campaign, the new year was supposed to allow Liverpool some breathing room to consolidate their push for a top four spot. To put it mildly, things haven’t exactly worked out that way, and Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur side will be the next visitors to Anfield looking to take advantage of a squad desperately looking for answers.
Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom at Anfield. It may have no bearing on the current Premier League table, but Liverpool’s U23 side - under the guidance of Mike Garrity - were able to claim all three points in a come-from-behind victory again Tottenham. Supporters will be hoping that the first team can take a few hints and show a similar degree of determination next weekend.
As has been the case with the senior professionals, the home side started brightly, with 17-year old Rhian Brewster sending the ball over the crossbar following good work by Harry Wilson. True to the recent playbook, Liverpool then quickly surrendered the advantage.
Marcus Edwards, only recently available after a prolonged absence due to an ankle injury, did well to evade Ben Woodburn and finish past Kamil Grabara on 18 minutes. Less than ten minutes later, Nathan Oduwa pounced on Joe Gomez’s uncertainty in possession to tee up his teammates, allowing Will Miller to scramble the ball home after the initial effort was blocked.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, who continues to demonstrate promise despite clearly showing that he has room to grow and develop in his recent first team cameos, was the catalyst for the fight back. Almost immediately after going two goals down, Liverpool were awarded a penalty after Alexander-Arnold, surging and skipping past defenders on the right, was clipped by Joe Muscatt in the box. Harry Wilson converted from the spot to halve Spurs’ advantage.
Minutes into the second half, Sheyi Ojo levelled the score with some style. With Woodburn drawing defensive attention to himself in a central position just outside the Spurs box, the ball bounced out to Ojo on the right. The young forward still had a defender in his face, but found himself the slightest bit of daylight, and curled a brilliant from a difficult angle past the helpless keeper.
The hosts were starting the exert some dominance, and the next goal would likely prove decisive. The crowd were made to wait for the winner - and in stark contrast to the senior side’s recent fortunes, it was Liverpool that seized the final goal. Just over eight minutes from time, a short corner was worked to Alexander-Arnold. Once again the fullback played the role of provider, this time lofting a wicked curling cross through traffic, where a charging Kevin Stewart headed the ball past Thomas Glover with some venom.
With no midweek action, and barring a new injury, it’s unlikely any of the key figures in this match will start against Spurs next weekend, but it’s possible one or more will find themselves on the bench. Hopefully, Liverpool won’t need late magic once again, but if they do, the young guns might be able to show the senior players how it’s done.