This game was always going to be a strange one. Should Klopp go for it and risk injuries to key players in the midst of a genuine title challenge? Or should he play a youthful eleven, succumbing a chance to obtain his first piece of silverware since taking over for Brendan Rodgers?
Many fans hoped for the former, with attentions firmly fixed elsewhere on the Reds’ upcoming Premier League game against Brighton, the perfect time to offer a response after sustaining their first defeat in the league at the Etihad.
Indeed, Klopp opted for nine changes at Molineux, handing debuts to teenagers Rafael Camacho and Curtis Jones while bringing in the experienced heads of James Milner and co. The much-changed side naturally delivered a jaded performance, struggling to build up ahead of steam and mount pressure on Wolves.
The home side, albeit relatively subdued themselves, took the advantage through Raul Jimenez in the first-half before Divock Origi, who had been on the periphery in the first forty-five minutes shimmied his way inside the area, unleashing a rocket of a shot to level the score-line. However, it was the hosts who would advance, handing Liverpool their sixth defeat in the last eight FA Cup ties against fellow Premier League opponents with a stunning long-range strike from Ruben Neves.
Here are the player ratings from the match.
Simon Mignolet – 5
Maybe I’ve just gotten used to having Alisson in goal, but there was an overriding sense that the Belgian could’ve done better for both of Wolves’ goals. Take nothing away from the quality of Neves’ strike in particular, but Mignolet was often left squandering at his near post.
Rafael Camacho – 6
Showed youthful exuberance to bomb up and down the right-hand side, albeit to Liverpool’s detriment at times, leaving the defence open to vulnerabilities on the counter-attack. Deserves credit for handling the occasion well, showing no fear on his debut. Clearly a talented player.
Fabinho – 8
Tasked with providing the father figure in a youthful defensive line, the Brazilian was as strong as an ox, cutting out the danger even when outnumbered. Read the danger well while pushing forward out of the back line and finding balls into the midfield. It looks like he might have to get used to playing at centre-half for the time being, with Dejan Lovren sustaining a hamstring injury just minutes into the match.
Ki-Jana Hoever – 8
Probably should give him a 7 but he gets an 8 for being a 16-year-old kid and the youngest player to ever feature in the FA Cup for Liverpool. A real baptism of fire, coming into the game just minutes after kick-off following Lovren’s hamstring injury, but he didn’t shy away from the occasion.
Showed great composure on the ball despite being needlessly put under pressure by his goalkeeper and even wriggled his way out of defence and set up a counter-attack in the final fifteen. Clear to see why Klopp rates him so highly.
Alberto Moreno – 6
Notable drop in quality compared to Andrew Robertson, leaving gaps open on the left-hand side when he pushed on beyond Curtis Jones. Failed to make much happen in the final third despite his energetic drives.
James Milner – 6
Endured a woeful first-half, although he wasn’t the only one. Handed Wolves the opener with a wayward pass, struggling to show his usual composure in midfield. However, grew into the game in the second-half, looking more assured in possession and trying to push his team up the pitch. Far from his best performance.
Naby Keita – 5
All eyes were on Keita heading into the match, with the midfield given the opportunity tos take a claim for a starting spot in the games ahead. Tasked with being the creative force for the evening, it was yet another disappointing showing with a distinct lack of quality in the final-third. In his defence though, those ahead of him offered little to nothing in the first-half, but Klopp will be expecting far more.
Curtis Jones – 6
One of Liverpool’s brightest players in a dismal first-half, showing for the ball and trying to take on his man wherever possible. Showed plenty of confidence in possession, wriggling his way around the opposition but struggled the find a quality final ball. Great to see him involved, however – a player with undoubted potential.
Xherdan Shaqiri – 5
Very quiet night for the Swiss international, who had little involvement in the first-half. Performed slightly better after the interval and almost scored a stunning free-kick but for the fingertips of John Ruddy.
Daniel Sturridge – 4
Uninspiring throughout. Struggled to make things happen, largely due to a lack of service. Had to come very deep to get involved and therefore made little impact in the final-third. Clearly possesses the quality to make a difference for Liverpool but it just wasn’t the case here.
Divock Origi – 5
Toyed with giving Origi a 6 purely for his goal contribution. What a goal it was, showing great footwork in a tight area before firing past Ruddy. Loves to lash in a goal when he’s playing badly, doesn’t he?
Couple of neat touches to hold up play in the second-half but little else of note. Needs to do more if he wants to get some more game time under his belt.