Jurgen Klopp fielded a weakened Liverpool team against Everton in the FA Cup Third Round tie. However, this proved not to be an issue as the academy players beat Everton 1-0 at Anfield to progress to the next round. They proved Bill Shankly’s old saying that Liverpool have the two best teams on Merseyside – Liverpool, and Liverpool reserves. A stunning strike from Curtis Jones proved to be the difference.
Curtis Jones the Pick of the Bunch
Local Lad Heroics
Curtis Jones is proving to be quite the hero for Liverpool in cup competitions this season. He scored the winning penalty against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup and contributed again, with a world-class finish against the Toffees. He grew up in Liverpool and this winner will have meant more to him than anyone else. Those fans crying out for a Coutinho replacement may not have to look too far from Anfield. Jones will hope that his goal will help boost his standing further in the squad.
The other youth players impressed too. Neco Williams and Yasser Larouci both put in solid performances at full-back. This suggests they could be capable deputies for Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson, should Klopp opt not to dip into the transfer market for cover. Harvey Elliott also stood out, as he has every time he has featured for the Reds.
One In, One Out
If there was one downside to the victory against Everton, it was the sight of James Milner going off within six minutes. This depletes the midfield ranks further, with Xherdan Shaqiri, Fabinho and Naby Keita already facing time on the treatment table. It also robs Klopp of his first-choice deputy full-back, meaning that opportunities could arise for the aforementioned Williams and Larouci.
However, the return of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain provides a boost to Liverpool. He went off injured in the Club World Cup final and has made a swift return. He will bolster the ranks of Klopp’s squad at a crucial stage of the season.
Takumi Minamino made his first start for Liverpool against Everton and has made a solid start to his career as a Red. He didn’t have the same impact as Virgil van Dijk in this fixture two years ago, but still impressed.
Minamino regularly occupied the defence, though there wasn’t the quality around him that he is used too. He will prove to be a dangerous weapon in Liverpool’s arsenal when featuring alongside Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.