Liverpool: Jones 71’
It’s Derby Day! And sure it’s a bit of a manufactured derby because it’s the FA Cup, but it’s still a derby and we still might like a win. Carlo Ancelotti and Everton will probably have something to say about it but they’re not the Champions of the World. The big positive is Takumi Minamino making his first start in a red shirt and a lot of our talented youngsters getting a chance to show what they have in front of the Anfield faithful.
Everton take no time in trying to set the tone for the match with a big tackle fifteen seconds in, but thankfully we get out of it unscathed. The Blues are taking this match super seriously and we’d expect nothing less out of Carlo Ancelotti but he also doesn’t have the load to bear that we do so... what do they know.
The first major moment comes around five minutes in when Everton get dangerously close to goal and Adrian makes a hero save not once but twice to deny the Blues the opening goal. And then maybe the worst thing that could happen, James Milner goes down injured and has to come off. He hands the armband to Adam Lallana and Yasser Larouci comes on instead and one more kid is added to the pitch. Not great, Bob.
It’s gotten a little more exciting since the changes, with Adrian making another great save to make sure Everton don’t find that opener. Liverpool have done a great job maybe not of maintaining possession but winning it back when it counts, even with Jordan Henderson on the bench and not out there breaking up tackles. The kids are really working hard to impress today, running their socks off. Lallana take the first shot of the day, having a wide open space ahead of him and sending it over the bar because... well that’s what happens.
Minamino gets a little closer, barely getting his head on a cross from Divock Origi. Liverpool have looked promising through these fifteen minutes, settling into the match and taking more control back from Everton — not that Everton had a lot of control in the beginning, but it was pretty evenly matched there for a minute. Liverpool are begging for an opening goal and hopefully it’ll come before the end of the half.
ALMOST, Origi gets a hold of the box and does some tricky footwork to attempt, but his effort just glances past the post. It doesn’t take much longer to get back into the Everton area and threaten once more but Everton has just decided to try and run out the last few minutes of the half.
Unsurprisingly there haven’t been any changes going into the second half. The squad has been doing well and with only two substitutes left over, Klopp is going to hold onto them as long as possible. Everton’s not really happy with losing the ball to set pieces so easily but who cares, this is our game to lose (knock on wood).
The game has devolved a little bit in these fifteen minutes, with Liverpool not keeping possession as well as they maybe should’ve as the kids get a little desperate to make something happen. Everton have been kept out of the Liverpool half, though, and haven’t been able to look as threatening as they did in bits of the first half so that’s what matters. Minamino has been pretty impressive on the ball, and it seems a foregone conclusion that one of the goals today (if and when they happen) will come from him. Which would be quite nice for him and his headband.
Liverpool have a decently formidable bench waiting for something to happen, with Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sadio Mane, and Rhian Brewster ready to make some kind of a difference. The kids are losing the thread a little bit, no longer sure how to get a connection so a more senior player than Adam Lallana on the pitch might help out. not long after typing this, Klopp makes his second change, taking off Minamino and bringing on Chambo instead.
A GOAL FINALLY! AND IT’S ONE OF THE KIDS - CURTIS JONES! Jones sends a beautiful curler into the top corner, just out of Jordan Pickford’s reach and Liverpool are ahead! That might be all we need to get things going in these last fifteen minutes, but its better than where we were. Klopp’s third and final change comes at the 78th minute as Harvey Elliott comes off for Rhian Brewster. Now with Chambo and Brewster on, they can link up and find an elusive second goal. Brewster’s been unavailable because of injury for a while so hopefully he can make a difference.
Just kidding, we don’t really need it because we’ve been able to control the rest of the game easily in the last ten minutes, and with three minutes of stoppage time they just gotta keep it up.
We didn’t even need the big guns, the kids did just fine (although shakily) on their own, kept a clean sheet, and Minamino made a great first impression. Roll on to the next round!