Preston North End 0 - 2 Liverpool
Liverpool: Minamino ’62, Origi 84’
After two high-pressure matches against Atletico Madrid and Manchester United, this League Cup match almost feels like a night off. Indeed, for many senior players it will be a night off. However, it will be a pretty good mixture of youth and experience tonight. Senior members include Adrian in goal, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez, and Kostas Tsimikas in the back line, Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the center of the park, and Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi up top. They’ll be joined by Neco Williams, Tyler Morton, and Harvey Blair. Morton and Blair are both making their senior debuts for the Reds.
If Liverpool win, we’re on to the next round. And if not, who cares?
Although Klopp has yet to win any domestic cups, his mixed teams of fringe senior and promising academy players have increasingly played more and more like, well, Liverpool. And that includes tonight. Liverpool dominated possession from the start, and looked lively while doing it.
Meanwhile, the Traveling Kop came to Deepdale in full voice. It didn’t take long before they serenated the ground with a rendition of “Ole’s At The Wheel.”
The first big chance came halfway through the first half, and it was the home side that will be regretting their missed chance! Preston played a through ball with our defenders camped out near the halfway line, and managed a 1-v-1 against Adrian. Thankfully the Spanish veteran goalkeeper was up to the challenge. A moment later Preston created a flurry of great chances after being kept onside by Joel Matip; they were somehow kept out by Adrian’s strong hands and Williams’ goal line clearance! Unlucky!
Liverpool are lucky to go into halftime on level terms. Despite having the lion’s share of possession, the rare defensive lapse gifted the home side two massive chances. On the other end of the pitch, Liverpool have been wasteful in possession, and haven’t created much of anything that would worry Preston. However, Klopp has some big guns on the bench in the form of Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota; it wouldn’t be a shock to see one or both if the match is still in the balance in the second half.
Klopp made a sub to start the half: Nat Phillips replaces Joel Matip. Interesting. Hopefully just a playing time issue instead of an injury. Please don’t be an injury.
Liverpool started the second half by creating a better chance than they had in the entire first, but unfortunately Minamino cannot sort his feet out to get a shot away. Still, better!
About 10 minutes into the second half, Connor Bradley came on for Harvey Blair. Klopp has five subs tonight, but he has stuck with his reserves, so far.
GOAL! Liverpool lead and it was not deserved! Williams, who was probably offside, was played through with a long ball over the top. He drives to the byline, and cuts it back for Minamino to poke in. It was a fantastic finish, at an awkward height and angle. Get in, Taki!
GOAL!! The Reds put this one to bed late with a downright comical goal. Tsimikas hit the post with what was probably supposed to be a cross, it comes out to Williams, whose shot is blocked, and bounces up behind Divock Origi, who flicked it into the back of the net with an honestly excellent finish.
Final Thoughts and Man of the Match
Liverpool are in the hat for whatever round of the League Cup comes next. There’s literally no way of knowing how many rounds are left. This competition still sucks, but sometimes it can be a bit fun, and tonight was definitely more on the fun side of things. Klopp got everything he could’ve wanted (other than being eliminated altogether): some much needed playing time for fringe players, some run-outs for academy players, and a win.
It’s also worth noting that Liverpool’s absurdly long 3+ goals scored in games away from home streak has ended. Not by Atletico Madrid. Not by Manchester United. But by Preston North End. Funny game, sometimes.
Liverpool’s Man of the Match vs. Preston North End
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