Jürgen Klopp rang the changes for Liverpool in their FA Cup match against Plymouth at Anfield. Emre Can was the only player to keep his place in the team from last weekends draw against Sunderland.
Sheji Ojo, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Woodburn, Ovie Ejaria and the returning Joe Gomez all were given a chance to impress Klopp and stake a claim for regular first team action.
Plymouth for their part took a large travelling support of almost 9500 to Anfield and picked their strongest team available.
This game was very poor, a mixture of poor finishing and bad choices on Liverpool’s part but also due to Plymouths absolute refusal to try to create chances to score for themselves.
They were quite happy to lie very deep and try to see this game out from the very first minute.
Ojo had what was probably the best chance of the game to score on 13 mins when Emre Can had a free kick just outside the box blocked and the resultant follow up ball bounced free to find Ojo with just the goalkeeper to beat but instead headed the ball down into the turf to make it and easy save.
He really should have scored.
The whole game fell into and pattern of huge amount of possession and territory for Liverpool to such an extent that with 35 mins gone of the game Plymouth had only passed the ball 21 times themselves while Liverpool had 86% possession.
These stats didn’t really change for the rest of the game. Liverpool had all the pressure on the edge of the box but seemed devoid of ideas and a killer instinct.
Ben Woodburn received a lot of the ball from the left side of the box and was guilty of always wanting to play it on inside and then chase the movement across along the penalty box in to an already crowded area.
He would have been better served had he stayed out wide a little more where there was space for him to get to the end line and produce from there.
Ojo on the other side was again as poor in decision making. Never seemed to know where to be or to go to.
All this possession meant Liverpool did have a lot of set pieces from corners and free kicks but all were painfully poor in execution and delivery to the point that no one even seemed to believe that a free kick on the edge of the box would result in at the very least a shot on goals.
Just after the hour mark Jürgen Klopp did make his three changes bringing on Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana hoping to see one of them do enough to clinch this game and stop the replay and a build up of unwanted games ahead.
Emre Can was replaced by Roberto Firmino and to be honest he deserved to be.
Being the senior man in midfield and with so much thought of him by alot of people he was really very poor today.
Kevin Stewart at times done most of the work and looked more like the senior player than Can did in my opinion.
Not everyone will agree I’m sure but with Can being talked about as a big player he really was anonymous when he was needed to guide and run a midfield that was having no threat behind it all day either.
The game finished after 6 mins of added on time with a flurry of more poor set pieces and crosses into the box with no outcome.
Jürgen Klopp will have learned more about his young players and who can do just what he requires just now.
Maybe more import he will have learned just who is not able to and who is not up to the task and that’s not just talking about the younger players.
Divock Origi was handed the task today of leading the line with two youngsters in alongside him. He was awful, his movement, decision making and effort was poor to say the least.
Daniel Sturridge provided the immediate threat after coming on that Origi failed to offer during the 90 minutes. Maybe we also seen today that Origi is not as far along on his game either as previously thought.
Plymouth were pleased in the end with their replay back home, but as a fan of football I myself was hugely disappointed that 9500 fans who travelled to see their team in the FA Cup simply did not even get to see their team have a go here.
An example maybe of the money men in the game and the importance of it too such smaller clubs.
If the FA Cup is dying on its feet as is being said by pundits alike this type of performance and mentality will not help to revive it unless the powers that be take action to stop smaller clubs always looking for the replay and the money it brings.
Written by @StephenKing75