It could have been tricky. It wasn’t.
It could have been embarrassing. It wasn’t.
Liverpool got the job done against Exeter to set up a tie with West Ham at Anfield in the next round of the FA Cup. After Sunday’s defeat to United, it was important for the Reds to register a win in front of the home fans and the young side Klopp put out, duly delivered.
There were plenty of positives to be taken away from the victory, but let’s start with Christian Benteke. The number 9 grabbed an impressive assist showing the power and directness many fans associated with the striker during his Villa days, and played a big part in another goal when he played a neat one-two with Brad Smith before the full-back pulled the ball back for Joe Allen.
Now, the other side of Benteke. Those dreaded missed chances. A comfortable 3-0 victory could have easily been an emphatic 4/5/6-0 win had Benteke finished his chances. The big striker somehow missed a free header from about six yards out in the first-half before missing two one-on-one chances in the second-half after running clear of the defence. These are the chances you would be expecting a Premier League striker to be despatching with relative ease.
Has he done enough to convince Klopp he should be in the starting XI for the Premier League games?
Joe Allen. The bearded wonder has really come into his own since the turn of the year. Already to his name in 2016, he has an assist and two goals and his influence on the team cannot be ignored. Tonight was against a weaker opposition but Klopp tweaked his role to almost play as a number 10 and he excelled in it. Harrying and hustling the opposition his work rate created chances for Liverpool as the team managed to recycle possession higher up the pitch.
In his only season with Swansea in the Premier League, he managed to score four league goals. ‘Goalscoring midfielders’ tend to average five league goals in open play so Joe Allen could be an effective midfielder to help aid the team with goals.
Classy Ojo pic.twitter.com/ONYAuGAczO
— GaGs (@GagsTandon) January 20, 2016
The youngster showed us all what we had been missing in the absence of Daniel Sturridge with a delicious left footed goal reminiscent of the one Sturridge scored against Sunderland in the 2013/14 season.
After returning to Liverpool a little unfit following his loan spell with Wolves, it was good to see Klopp manage his time better and, hopefully, Liverpool fans will get to watch the talented attacking midfielder score many, many more goals like that in the near future.
Cameron Brannagan. The Manchester-born midfielder showed his class in the win tonight. He made everything look so easy, so simple. When it’s all so natural to a player you know you have got something special on your hands.
Could he be our Rooney in the future? Integral to winning the League and we still sing songs about hating United whilst openly adoring the Manc in our team?
Opposition fans will say this was a skewed shot but they are just jealous of his no-look pass..
John Flanagan. Cafu’s best friend made his long awaited return and Liverpool suddenly have depth in the right-back area.
It was impossible not to smile as you watched him walk onto the Anfield pitch for what feels like the first time in forever. It’s always nice to see a local lad playing and, although there may be question marks over his long-term future at the club, it was good see him in the red of Liverpool once again.