There was considerable conjecture when the Liverpool team dropped at 3pm, with Jürgen Klopp making nine changes to face Everton. Klopp’s non-prioritisation of the FA Cup has been apparent throughout his Liverpool tenure, with such rotation expected given the exhausting December schedule which lingers still in recent memory.
But with any rotated side comes curiosity — who will make their debut? Who will shine? Who will force their way into Klopp’s first-team thoughts? There was a debut for new signing Takumi Minamino, with the remainder of the team having appeared for the Reds before.
Adrian replaced Alisson, Joe Gomez and the recently-recalled Nat Phillips were the centre-back pairing, with James Milner and Neco Williams at left and right-back respectively. Adam Lallana was trusted to lead in midfield, with Pedro Chirivella and Curtis Jones slotting in beside him. The prodigious Harvey Elliott and debutant Minamino were deployed across the flanks, with Everton-slayer Divock Origi leading the line.
Liverpool were forced into a substitution after an untimely nine minutes, with Milner departing to add himself to an already lengthy injury list. Yasser Larouci came in to replace him, and although Everton had ample opportunities, an unfamiliar defence settled relatively well.
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Everton produced three excellent chances in the first half, with Liverpool’s best opportunity arising from some Origi trickery in the box. An excellent Elliott ball found the Belgian, and Jordan Pickford saved his shot well. Liverpool were much improved in the second half, with Williams and substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both testing Pickford.
The break through came from a sublime effort from Scouser Jones, who took the ball from Origi and hit an unstoppable shot beyond Pickford’s reach. That goal infused Liverpool with confidence, who went on to largely dominate the game.
They restricted Everton to no shots on target in the second half and saw the game out relatively comfortably. The Anfield run against Everton goes on, as do Liverpool in the Cup.
Giving a much more accomplished display than many thought possible upon hearing the team news, how did the Liverpool players fare?
Here are your ratings:
Adrián 7.5 – Called into action repeatedly in the first half, and made three superb saves. Only blemish was when he came to claim a cross and missed entirely. What an excellent backup ‘keeper he is proving to be.
Milly N/A – Sadly only lasted nine minutes become going off with an injury. His parting contribution was to put off Theo Walcott as he was bearing down on goal. Not on long enough to be rated.
JoGo 8 – Excellent once again. Gomez is 22 years old and was one of the most experienced heads out there. His status as Virgil’s best partner is becoming increasingly cemented.
Phillips 7 – Good display from the recalled central defender. He started a little nervously but once he settled alongside the accomplished Gomez he didn’t put a foot wrong.
Neco 9 – A wonderful display from this young academy product. Williams may have to bide his time given the quality of Trent, but he is undeniably a talent. Defensively sound and tested Pickford with a confident shot.
La La Land 8 – Lallana’s limitations are often laid bare, but here he was very good. He showed incredible vision, was vocal as the team veteran after Milner’s substitution, and demonstrated his flicks and guile throughout.
CJ 9 – Jones had already been impacting proceedings positively by playing with his characteristic flair, but to finish his opportunity with such aplomb makes him the stand-out player. The wishes expressed in his post-match interview may well come to pass — more first-team appearances surely beckon. Man of the match.
Pedro 7.5 – It feels like the Spaniard has been at Liverpool forever without making any feel headway into the first-time picture. Though today probably hasn’t changed that, he acquitted himself well in the central midfield area.
Takumi 7 – A lively debut for the Japanese player as he lasted 70 minutes. He showed deft touches, linked up well with his unfamiliar teammates, and may have scored with a tad more composure when presented with a good chance in the first half.
Elliott 8 – Yet another display full of confidence from the 16-year-old. He was busy all afternoon, with one excellent ball creating the key chance for Origi in the first period. An absolute star.
Divvy 7.5 – The Belgian was a nuisance without being outstanding, but he had his fingerprints all over the Reds’ best attacking play. He almost scored in the first half, and claimed the assist for Jones’ screamer in the second.
Yasser 7.5 – The young left-back may have been shocked at the extent of his involvement, but he grew into the game and particularly linked up well with fellow sub Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Ox 8 – Busy cameo from the Englishman who returned from injury earlier than anticipated. He attempted one shot that was saved by Pickford and constantly tried to thread attacks through the midfield.
Rhian 7 – A smallish window for the youngster to display his ability, and he put himself about the pitch in typical fashion without having any clear-cut chances. The expected loan spell to Swansea should give him the games he evidently needs.