The magic of the FA Cup ended in the third round for League One’s Shrewsbury Town after their visit to Anfield ended in a 4-1 loss. Liverpool, to their credit, played a lot of kids and had come off a very difficult week (and some change) with players out due to positive Covid tests, injury, and international tournaments. It was a rough patch that hardly seems over, and likely isn’t really as the pandemic continues to surge, but hey at least the Reds won when forced to play through it?
“Very, very difficult for different reasons,” manager Jürgen Klopp said following the match, about the difficult period the club is in.
“So, this was the team we could line up today and the boys did really well in a difficult game, which became even more difficult when we conceded for 1-0. But the boys reacted well, put in a really proper shift, and it’s so difficult because setting up a team, starting training again on Friday and then involving all these young kids.
“They are all really good footballers, there’s no doubt about that, we are not in doubt about that, so that’s all good. But it makes it really tricky, especially when you have to play and break down a low block, which Shrewsbury, rightly so, did today.
“So, I am just happy about the result, happy about that we went through and about a lot of things – that Taki trained only twice now after his injury, actually rather still part of the rehab the game today than a real game. Then Bobby came back only yesterday for training and played now in the game and scored as well. So many things could have went the wrong way today and in the end we made it all fine.”
The fact that Liverpool were able to field some sort of a squad, and get through the round, is nothing short of a miracle - added only to the fact that Shrewsbury Town were likely facing the same obstacles with much less resources than the Reds. The additions of Kaide Gordon, Conor Bradley, and Tyler Morton from the Academy have surely helped, especially when they’ve been able to contribute.
“I am delighted, even when I know they both can do so much better because they are real talents. I’m really happy about that and I’m happy about a lot of things,” Klopp continued.
“Conor can play how good he could be and can be in the future. And Kaide obviously finishing-wise he’s an adult, his finishing is really exceptional, but all the rest he is still a kid. So playing the position the way he plays, there is so much to improve.
“But I am really happy for them. How they contributed today, the first goal was obviously their goal together with Elijah, who should be happy as well today, especially when we moved him to the left wing, all of a sudden he felt like free to go there, which is fine. So many really nice little stories today, so good.”
On the injury side of things, Takumi Minamino and Roberto Firmino were both able to make appearances off the bench having just been deemed fit following their spells sidelined. Firmino even scored a cheeky backheel goal, and Minamino got a little more play time ahead of what could be a busy run for the Japanese international.
“Taki was injured, so that’s all. Nothing serious but serious enough that he couldn’t play, so that’s how it is. It’s not the longest rehab in his life hopefully – or maybe it was the longest rehab hopefully then,” the manager added.
“But he is back and very important for us, very, very important – especially when we have a lot of games coming up and, how we all know, that two of our main guys up front are not here. It’s good.
“I liked Taki a lot when he came on. He’s actually in a really good shape but, of course, the injury interrupted it slightly, that’s how it is. But now he’s back, it’s good and we need him desperately.”
Despite all the stress of playing a game within a surging pandemic, it was a win to take home and feel okay with, when all was said and done.