One of the fun parts about the domestic cup competitions is the opportunity to see some of the Academy players get an opportunity with the senior team. Often these chances come against lower level competition, frequently when the match is already in hand.
On Sunday, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp turned to two youngsters while deadlocked 0-0 away from home against a top Premier League side in Arsenal. Conor Bradley and Bobby Clark entered the fray with the match on a knife’s edge and played their parts well as Liverpool scored two goals while they were on the pitch.
Conor Bradley came on in at right back as Trent Alexander-Arnold moved to a holding midfield role. Bradley was tasked with shutting down the speedy and tricky Gabriel Martinelli. After the match, the 20 year old spoke about how he was able to nullify the Brazilian winger as well as his excitement for being involved in the match.
“I just tried to force him inside,” said Bradley. “As soon as I came on, Trent told me to force him inside and he’ll be there to cover me. So any time he tried to take me on, I just tried to do that. I think I did alright against him, so I’m happy!”
“Just buzzing to get on the pitch and help the team in any way I could. I’m just buzzing to get through to the next round. Brilliant.”
Bobby Clark was similarly chuffed to get the opportunity, especially with the chance coming alongside his Academy teammate.
“It’s a great feeling. Coming on with Conor, I’ve played with him for the Academy for a bit now, it’s a good feeling.”
Clark said the manager told the duo to focus on their defensive duties above all else before the stepped on the pitch, and to just play his game.
“[Klopp] was just saying to do our defensive jobs well and be myself on the ball and express myself. They are all world-class players, so you’ve got to be switched on at all times. There’s been some really good results recently and again today, 2-0 at Arsenal away, it’s obviously a great game.”
Both players also made sure to acknowledge the traveling supporters, who ere in full voice throughout the match.
“They were class,” said Clark. “When that first goal went in, scenes!”
“They are unbelievable,” said Bradley of the support. “The away fans are always top, brilliant.”