Jurgen Klopp was back on the sidelines as a very mix and match Liverpool side took on Shrewsbury Town at Anfield. The Reds had quite a few players and staff still isolating due to positive covid cases, with the latest reported being Trent Alexander-Arnold. Klopp put out a side that was a mixture of experienced first teamers with a good number of U23 and U18 players.
Liverpool dominated possession from the off, but Shrewsbury Town proved to be difficult to break down early, and showed they could be dangerous on the break. Shrewsbury struck first, but Liverpool roared back with four goals in what became a pretty fun match to watch. It certainly wasn’t pretty, but there were plenty of positives to take away from the game.
Let’s take a look at some of the winners, losers, and other narratives around the game.
The Kids Are Alright
The kids were the star of the show today, especially Kaide Gordon. They certainly weren’t infallible, but it showed that Liverpool have a lot of depth throughout their Academy, and players who are ready to make the jump to senior team football.
Kaide Gordon was sensational. He was a consistent threat on and off the ball, and was making runs late into the game until he was subbed off to a standing ovation. His goal was extremely well taken, showing quick feet to shift the ball from right to left after freezing his defender for a moment, then perfectly placed the ball with his shot. He also showed surprising grit at times, getting stuck on while pressing to win the ball back and bouncing off of player trying to tackle him on the dribble.
Elijah Dixon-Bonner also had a very nice debut in midfield. He was very physical in his challenges, refusing to be intimidated by some larger players, and won a couple of tackles. He made some nice runs off the ball as well. He came very close to scoring after making a run into the box to smash a ball from close range, forcing a very good save from the keeper.
Conor Bradley still has some work to do with his defensive positioning and could be better in 1v1 situations both offensively and defensively, but he showed plenty of quickness and willingness to get on the ball. He set up Liverpool’s first goal, providing the assist to Gordon with a nice pass, and he was also involved in quite a few other moves, including Bobby Firmino’s goal.
Tyler Morton continued his solid run of form with the senior team. He was always available for a pass, and moved the ball well, completing over 95% of his passes. He got more adventurous with his passing as the game wore on, completing 8 of 8 long passes. He was very positionally aware.
The Brazilian holding midfielder had himself a day. While Fabs has been known to chip in with a screamer of a goal here and there, he was very much involved on the offensive end today, and ended up with a brace. Fabinho, who has been a very efficient penalty taker over his career, put away his 22nd career goal from the spot in 23 tries to give Liverpool a 2-1 lead. He was involved in the lead up to Bobby Firmino’s goal, chipping the ball from the top of the box to Conor Bradley, and then he scored his second of the night to close the game out, smashing the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
For the second game in a row, Kelleher showed Liverpool fans just how good the depth is at the goalkeeper position. The Irishman was always alert to quick counters, and came out early to clear balls away or to claim corners. He also had a huge sequence late in the first half, coming out to punch a dangerous long throw, then quickly getting back to the goal mouth to be in position to dive down and catch a header that looked to knot the game up at two. While there is no replacing Alisson, it feels really nice to not worry with Kelleher in net.
Bobby was on the field for less than a half, but his impact was immense. He immediately was involved, showing off his movement and footwork in equal measures. He had two dribbles, two key passes, and two shots on goal in his time on the field, including scoring a goal. His goal was pure Bobby, receiving a ball in front of net and slamming a back heel past the keeper and a defender. Chalk another one up for the Bobby No Look Ultras!
While Bobby came on and had an immediate impact, Minamino struggled to get into the game. The Japanese forward has been great in cup competitions so far this season, but he was not able to influence the game today after coming on at half time. With Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane away on international duty, Liverpool could really use some good performance from Taki.
On paper, the defense looked by far to be the strongest unit of the line up, with three first team starters involved. Instead, it was the defense that looked the shakiest unit on the field. Ibou Konate did a terrible job on Shrewsbury Town’s goal, letting the ball run right in front of him and across to the attacker making a run instead of knocking it out for a corner. Shrewsbury got behind Liverpool’s high line several other times, beating the Reds with long diagonal balls that have been a struggle all season long.
Credit To The Opposition
Shrewsbury Town were certainly outclassed from a talent standpoint, but they never folded under the pressure they were put under by Liverpool. The League One side opened the scoring with a nice move, and continually made things uncomfortable for Liverpool at the back, coming close to scoring a couple of other times from well worked counters.
What Happens Next
Liverpool will host Arsenal on Thursday in what will now be the first leg of the EFL Cup semifinals after the original first leg was postponed. We’ll have to wait and see if Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and others will be back from covid isolations and injuries for the match.
The Reds will stay in town to host Brentford in the Premier League next Sunday.