With a full eleven changes for their EFL Cup tie with Tottenham on Tuesday, there was a lot of youth and inexperience on the field for Liverpool. There were first starts for two players, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ovie Ejaria, while fringe first teamers like Kevin Stewart were given an opportunity.
The result may not have been quite as slick and flowing as the usual starting eleven often looks, but Liverpool fully deserved their 2-1 victory—and probably should have won by more. It left Gini Wijnaldum, one of the few regular first team starters on the night, impressed with the ability and calmness of the club’s youngsters.
“I think it’s a good sign for a team that you have players who can come in and fit into the team immediately and it’s easy to make changes for a manager,” Wijnaldum told the club’s official website. “That it’s not a problem when someone is out and you can change to a player with good quality, it’s a good thing for the team.”
Tottenham also ran out a heavily changed side, making for a battle of the B Teams. But between the two aspirant title challengers, there was only one side that deserved the victory and to advance to the quarter-finals, and that was Liverpool. Next month, many of those players will hope to continue that journey against Leeds.
Having played a key role in getting the club this far in England’s second cup competition, they will deserve that chance. And on the evidence of Tuesday night, they won’t be over-awed by the occasion—or the opportunity to take one step closer to the first silverware of the Jürgen Klopp era.
“You see a lot of young players when they come into the first team and play a big game, they are nervous and you don’t see their quality immediately,” the midfielder added. “I don’t know if they were nervous, but it didn’t seem like it. They just played their game and played how they train.
“I was really impressed. It’s not easy for a young player to play in a big game for a big club. A lot of players get nervous and lose confidence, but I didn’t see it in these players.”