Liverpool have progressed to the fifth round of the FA Cup courtesy of Neil Critchley’s under 23s side after they beat Shrewsbury Town 1-0 at Anfield. The Reds will now go on to face Frank Lampard’s Chelsea in the next round of the competition.
The u23s were called upon due to Jürgen Klopp deciding to stick to his promise to give his first team players their winter break. Critchley took to the Reds dugout and the young side got the job done.
Curtis Jones became the youngest player to captain the Merseyside club and there’s a case to be made that he was Liverpool’s man-the-match. Right-back Neco Williams also provided another solid display at Anfield.
The Welshman impressed on his debut in October when Klopp’s team progressed past Arsenal in the Carabao Cup, and he provided the same level of performance in the FA Cup tie on Tuesday night.
Like what you see? Get it for free!
Get all of our content delivered straight to your inbox — completely free of charge.
The youngster was directly involved in the only goal of the game. His 40-yard diagonal ball was identical to the sort of pass we would see from Trent Alexander-Arnold week-in, week-out, and Williams’ long cross was enough to trouble the Shrewsbury defence.
Salop defender Ro-Shaun Williams struggled to deal with the ball and ended up looping a header over his own goalkeeper Max O’Leary. The Irish k’eeper was too far off his line to recover and the resulting header became an own-goal to make it 1-0 to Liverpool.
Williams’ distribution was fantastic. He crossed the ball three times into the Shrewsbury Town box and all three were successful. He also won three out of four defensive duels throughout the game.
The 18-year-old has played three first team games in which two were against top tier Premier League sides — Arsenal and Everton. In both of them games the young defender showed he was capable against strong opposition and more importantly that he may be ready for the leap from academy to first team.
One of Klopp’s weakest areas of his side is arguably the depth in the full-back area. Williams has showed similarities to Alexander-Arnold from his crossing ability to a dogged determination to get forward.
If a back-up option to Liverpool’s No.66 was on the cards in the summer window, Williams will have certainly made the German think twice. The Welshman definitely has a future within the world champions’ squad if he continues his phenomenal performances as a Liverpool player.
Neco hasn’t had too many first-team opportunities, but every time he has played he has impressed. Hopefully, his infrequent inclusions can turn into regular spots on the bench and then as a rotational player for Trent.
There is unquestionably more to be seen from a fine youth prospect.