Liverpool 0 – 0 Derby County – EFL Cup 3rd Round – Post-mortem
I know these types of match ups aren’t for everyone, but I always look forward to seeing the younger elements of Liverpool FC turn out for the first team. With a full rotation exercise undertaken by Jurgen Klopp, the team sheet was a lovely mix of youth & a little experience, which enabled just about the right balance to make this game a good contest.
Below are is the Liverpool line-up & my ratings from the match.
Caoimhin Kelleher – 8.0
Calvin Ramsay – 8.0
Kostas Tsimikas – 7.0
Nat Phillips – 7.0
Joe Gomez – 7.0
Bobby Clark – 6.0
Stefan Bajetic- 7.0
Melkamu Frauendorf – 7.0
Fábio Carvalho – 7.0
Layton Stewart – 6.0
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain – 6.0
Harvey Elliott – 6.0 (on 66)
Darwin Nunez – 6.0 (on 66)
Roberto Firmino – 5.0 (on 66)
Ben Doak – 7.0 (on 74)
For many, the listed line up would have been the first chance to view some of these young players. All week, various sites and persons were predicting multiple different line ups, but what we were given was what was most certainly needed, in order to ensure the senior players were rested for the weekend.
Through the first half you could see certain players gently building into the game, unwilling to risk too much, and concentrating on being the possession heavy team. Only sporadic moments of incisive attacking play occurred through that opening period, as this group of players (fairly unfamiliar with each other) navigated their way through the game. The ‘no look’ Joe Gomez pass back appeared again, and that laid back type of defending really needs to be averted. Stefan Bajetic defied his years, and was good from a control and positional point of you.
The second half saw the reds pick up their intensity, and they probably should have scored either before, or certainly after the introduction of the cavalry. This type of contest can go either way, and we saw (so far) some heavyweight teams crash out as a result. Klopp rolled the dice on this group, and despite the close call later, it definitely payed off.
To look at the key points (before the penalty shootout), Calvin Ramsay showed great promise at right back. His maturity, strength and positional play, showed why we were so keen on recruiting him in the summer. For such a young man, he really looked the part at right back, and it would be a very interesting moment to see Trent positioned into the RM role ahead of him. I awarded Ramsay the man of the match, because throughout the 90 minutes, he was the most steady player on the pitch. That right back position is so often exploited right now, and the teams evolution could well see him became a solid rotation piece.
In terms of the substitutes, it was a shame not to see Darwin employed through the middle when he came on. You felt that his determination and skill set would have caused more damage, and we don’t want to see Darwin at LM unless it’s a requirement. Bobby should have ended the contest with a clean head on goal, and Harvey equally had a good moment to end the affair. But in terms of the substitute appearances, for me it was all about the cameo of young Ben Doak.
Doak came into this game with the fearless nature that we often pin to Harvey Elliott. The freedom in which he played was a joy to behold, especially for one just a few days short of his 17th birthday. His desire to continually test the opposing fullback was both refreshing and infectious, and you could see the players around him start to increase their own tempo in line with Doak’s desire.
The main talking point of the game will almost certainly be surrounding Caoimhin Kelleher, and his ongoing penalty saving heroics. Some keepers are just very good at anticipation from these situations, and Kelleher’s 4 stops ranged from good to brilliant. To have this type of player as our back up is great news for Jurgen Klopp, but it must be getting close to decision time on his short and long term future. Do we sell (whilst inputting a buy back clause), or do we loan for a couple of seasons, and see how Alisson Becker ages out. It’s a tricky one, but you get the sense this young stopper will be wanting answers come the seasons end.
The next round beckons, and for me that’s a great thing. If we were fielding a raft of first team regulars, I wouldn’t as so keen, but that isn’t yet the case. What we saw last night (after the shootout win), was a group of young individuals overjoyed with their success. This club is about continuing success, so as long as we continue to blood these your starlets in the Cup, let the run continue.