With the end of a ridiculous run of fixtures across , coupled with a growing number of injuries, Jurgen Klopp saw fit to put out a very makeshift line up in the FA Cup version of the Merseyside Derby. Everton, with nothing else to play for this season, threw out a predictably strong side. With a match that could have gone horribly wrong in the manner of the LFC Yutes vs Aston Villa in the League Cup, the Liverpool side showed class and composure to deservedly advance to the next round. The magic of the cup indeed.
Join us as we try and separate narrative from reality of the match up and how it all went down in the end.
Adrian: The Spanish goalkeeper was immense in the first half, making three point blank saves to keep Liverpool in the game. It’s a really nice feeling to know that Liverpool have the best goalkeeper in the game in Alisson Becker, and possibly the best back up in the game as well.
Joe Gomez: The English centerback was quietly everywhere in the back today. With no Virgil van Dijk to depend on, he was the rock in the back of a makeshift line, especially after James Milner exited. Gomez is more than just a defender with great recovery speed, his ability to read the game is unreal for a player of his age.
Curtis Jones: Local lad scores in derby klaxon.
Liverpool’s Youthful Right Side: Harvey Elliott and Necco Williams put on an absolute display down the right flank today. Elliott was a bundle of energy on and off the ball. His vision and touch belie his youthful age. He is going to be something absolutely special. Necco (let’s call him Wafer) Williams did his best Trent Alexander-Arnold impression at right back. The young Welshman pinged balls all over the field, and had a couple of well taken shots from distance, including an absolute pile driver that forced Jordan Pickford into a save. The two youngsters were a constant thorn in Lucas Digne’s side, and they also did a very nice job of keeping Richarlison in check.
Pedro Chirivella: The somehow only 22 year old midfielder put on a display today with his passing and technical ability on the ball. His set piece deliveries were also outstanding. While he probably won’t fit into Liverpool’s long term plans, he showed he deserves minutes somewhere.
Adam Lallana: I’ll go ahead and say it, I’ve been critical of Lallana these last couple of seasons. Today, however, he provided great leadership for a young team after taking the captain’s arm band from Milner. He, along with Chirivella, helped to control the flow of the game through the midfield, especially in the second half.
Nathaniel Phillips: Stepping in for the best defender in the world was always going to be a tall order, but Phillips showed he still has a long way to go before he’ll be ready for the Premier League. He got bullied more than once by the Everton attackers, and seemed unsure of his positioning at times.
James Milner’s Hamstring: I didn’t even know that robots HAD hamstrings, but it sounds like Milner at the best tweaked his, and at the worst, tore it. Milner has been a security blanket for Klopp, especially as the team has dealt with an injury crisis in the midfield, and not depth at left back. Losing Milner, the ultimate utility player, for a significant period of time could be a big blow.
Lucas Digne: The Everton left back has been considered by some to be better than Andrew Robertson. The Frenchman looked out of his depth against a couple of teenagers today, and showed his frustration as the match progressed. We’ll see if his head explodes when Liverpool sends him the bill for the signage board he broke when kicking at it in frustration.
When the line ups came out, everyone scrambled to figure out what the actual shape would be, and where, in particular, Takumi Minamino would be playing. It turned out to be the pretty standard Liverpool 4-3-3, with Minamino taking up the Roberto Firmino role of nominally leading the line while dropping deeper to combine. While Minamino didn’t get much service to his feet, he did show he was absolutely up for the physical nature of the Premier League. He also made some very smart runs, and it will be fun to see him combine with more of the senior team players.
What Happens Next
Liverpool get ready to play again in 2...3...wait, 6 whole days?!?! The Reds will welcome the respite before they travel to London to take on a Tottenham side fighting for a Europa League spot. The draw for the 4th round of the FA cup will take place tomorrow, and the 4th round games will take place the weekend of January 25.