Youngster Ben Woodburn made history in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Leeds United in the League Cup, on a revealing night for the Reds.
Liverpool 2-0 Leeds United
League Cup Quarter-Finals, Anfield
Tuesday November 29, 2016
Goals: Origi 76′, Woodburn 82′
As was the case against Sunderland in the previous game, it took Liverpool until the second half to break down their opponents at Anfield.
Garry Monk’s Leeds side weren’t quite as defensive as David Moyes’ visitors last weekend, but they were still difficult to break down.
Again, it was Divock Origi who finally made the breakthrough, scoring at the near post following a superb cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The final score was the same too, with Woodburn adding a second, becoming Liverpool’s youngest ever goalscorer in the process.
Here, we look at five talking points from this League Cup quarter-final triumph.
Coping Without Coutinho
How will Liverpool cope without Philippe Coutinho for the rest of 2016?
This question was partly answered against Leeds, as Georginio Wijnaldum took the Brazilian’s place in the advanced role on the left side.
While this might not be the case when Klopp plays a full-strength side, it was interesting to see how the Dutchman performed in this role.
The No. 5 had a good chance early on when Ovie Ejaria‘s excellent pass found him free in the area, but Wijnaldum’s shot was saved well by Marco Silvestri in the Leeds goal.
The natural replacement in this wide position should be Roberto Firmino, with Origi or Daniel Sturridge acting as the centre-forward, and Wijnaldum didn’t put in the type of performance to suggest he’ll become a regular in this position.
Lack of Control With Key Names Out
Without Jordan Henderson or Joel Matip to build the play from the back, nor Coutinho, Firmino or Adam Lallana to keep things tidy in the final third, Liverpool lacked control.
Their passing was sloppy, and even completed passes were often under-hit or played to an awkward position behind the intended recipient.
While Jurgen Klopp‘s men went on to win the game, it wasn’t the most convincing of performances against a Leeds side who had also made some changes from their usual lineup.
An error from Kevin Stewart almost gifted Leeds a goal early in the first half, but Kemar Roofe’s shot ended up hitting the post with Simon Mignolet stranded.
One of the best attacking moves of the game led to the second goal, but these flowing moves were few and far between as the players hesitated in the final third and ended up turning possession over more often than not.
Klopp admitted after the game that the team’s play was “not too beautiful to watch,” especially in the first half.
Woodburn Becomes Liverpool’s Youngest Goalscorer
Having made his first senior appearance for the Reds from the bench against Sunderland, it seemed like the 17-year-old could get his first start in this cup game.
As it turned out, he was sat on the bench again, but on this occasion he enjoyed considerably more time on the pitch than the few minutes he had at the end of Saturday’s game.
Wearing the No. 58, he replaced Stewart on the 67th minute, dropping into the left-sided attacking position as Wijnaldum retreated into midfield.
It wasn’t long before he was involved in the game, having one shot blocked and another drifting harmlessly out for a throw-in.
His next involvement was much more significant, however, as he took Wijnaldum’s square ball in the opposition penalty area and blasted it into the goal at the Kop end.
It was a moment to remember for the Wales youth international, as he was joined by his team-mates to celebrate his first goal for the club.
He becomes Liverpool’s youngest ever goalscorer, beating the record previously held by Michael Owen.
Though Klopp is trying to keep him out of the limelight, he commented after the game that it’s difficult to do so.
“We only bring him in because we want to use him,” said the manager. “When he’s on the pitch he’s absolutely allowed to score goals. It’s all good. I’m really happy for him.”
Origi appeared to pick up a knock in the first half, and was hobbling around before he opened the scoring.
He actually left the field for treatment shortly after, before being involved in the second goal along with Wijnaldum and Sadio Mane prior to Woodburn’s finish.
The Belgian was eventually replaced by Marko Grujic in the final minute of the game, and didn’t look 100 percent as he left the pitch.
With Coutinho, Lallana and possibly Sturridge out, it might mean more reshuffling of the pack for future games, and maybe even another appearance from the bench for Woodburn.
Looking Ahead To Bournemouth
Only Mane, Wijnaldum and Emre Can remained in the side from the last Premier League game, meaning that many of the other regular first-teamers were able to take a break.
Bournemouth, Liverpool’s next league opponents, were knocked out of the cup in the third round, so their players had the full week to prepare both physically and tactically for Saturday’s game.
The amount of injuries and knocks will be a worry for Klopp, but he’ll still expect to be able to put out a strong, well-prepared side.
With the usual back four reinstated, Loris Karius back between the posts, and Firmino returning in attack, it will be a different looking side to the one which beat Leeds.