Liverpool U18s made the short trip to Altrincham to take on rivals Manchester United on Friday night. PJ Vaughan reports on the match.
Earlier this season Liverpool beat United 4-0. However Liverpool U18s have had a very mixed run of results since then. While they sit fourth in the table, they are thirteen points behind Middlesbrough and nine behind Everton in the table. They went into the game with the third worst defensive record in the league. Two games previously they drew 5-5 with Derby County.
This game was very much a stalemate. Both teams were more intent on not losing than actually trying to win. Liverpool did play the better football on the night, but did not generate enough clear chances. United were bigger and more physical than Liverpool and tried to break with pace mainly through their wide players Zac Dearnley and Joe Riley. On what was a cold December night the players did little to inspire a good crowd with excitement but this wasn’t from the lack of endeavour.
United’s best players were their keeper Dean Henderson, their fullbacks Cameron Borthwich-Jackson and Tyler Reid and Charlie Scott who protected the back line well from defensive midfield. There has being much talk about United’s attacking midfielder Callum Gribbin who is 15 years old. Some United fans call him the next Norman Whiteside but he looked more like the next Chris Eagles to me. But enough about United.
Ryan Kent, Harry Wilson and Sergi Canos worked hard all night without having much joy. Kent had one fabulous shot that looked destined for the top corner until it was excellently saved by United’s keeper. Both Wilson and Kent will need to develop physically before they will have an impact at a higher level. Canos’ movement and crossing were very good on occasions and he ran behind the United defensive on a number of occasions.
Will Marsh lacks pace to trouble defenders in behind, this made it easier for the United defence. Jake Brimmer played very well on what was only his third match for the U18. The young Australian was very comfortable on the ball and his long range passing is very good.
However it was his midfield partner Pedro Chirevella that conducted the orchestra in the Liverpool midfield. His passing was sublime and he directs his teammates vocally and visually by pointing where a free man was. He tried to pick passes through the United defence all night and late on made an excellent run and was unlucky with his finish, when it hit Henderson’s leg.
Liverpool missed Sheyi Ojo and Jerome Sinclair who are currently training with the first team and Adam Philips who was international duty. Both Liverpool substitutes also impressed Kane Lewis and Oviemuno Ejaria who Liverpool signed in the summer from Chelsea and Arsenal respectively. While Corey Whelan and Lewis Travis defended stoutly all night and helped Liverpool keep a badly needed second clean sheet in a row.
Busy weeks ahead
The U18s and U19s have some huge fixtures before Christmas, starting on Tuesday when the U19s play Basel in the UEFA Youth League, where they will need to win by 2 clear goals to progress. The following week the U18s have Bradford City in the FA Youth Cup before finishing the year against the league leaders Middlesbrough.
The U21 in contrast will only have one game in November and December and that falls the same night as the League Cup which is not good for either team. It’s clear the U21 league is still far from perfect.
Firth 6.5, Travis 7, Hart 6.5, Whelan 7, Polgar 6, Brimmer 7, Canos 7, Chirivella 8, Marsh 6 Wilson 6.5, Kent 6.5
Subs: Lewis 7 for Polgar 45 mins & Ejaria 7 for Marsh 68 mins
Unused Subs Wheeler, Nicholas,
Man of the Match
Pedro Chirivella he controlled the game from midfield, he is very much the director of the orchestra and is consistently Liverpool’s best performer it’s only a matter of time he makes a step up to the U21s.