Liverpool produced another insipid display as they lost 2-1 to Championship side Wolves and crashed out of the FA Cup fourth round.
Liverpool 1-2 Wolves
FA Cup Fourth Round, Anfield
January 28, 2017
Goals: Origi 86′; Stearman 1′, Weimann 41′
Loris Karius – 5 (out of 10)
Making his fifth appearance of 2017, Karius will have been looking to continue his impressive run of form as Jurgen Klopp‘s backup goalkeeper—and will be disappointed after conceding twice at home.
The German could be faulted for failing to stop Richard Stearman’s close-range header, but it is safe to say the entire Liverpool lineup were caught off guard as Wolves netted within a minute.
Connor Randall – 3
This was Randall’s first game of the season, and over his 45 minutes on the field, it was easy to see why Klopp opted against fielding the 21-year-old in the first six months of the season.
Championship sides Barnsley and Preston North End have been credited with interest in Randall this month, but on Saturday he operated below that standard.
The No. 56 was particularly poor in the buildup to Andreas Weimann’s goal, caught out of position before bizarrely claiming offside.
Joe Gomez – 4.5
Gomez signed a new five-year deal with Liverpool on Friday afternoon, and was hailed by Klopp as having “all the attributes you need to succeed at the very highest level in his position.”
This wasn’t apparent against Wolves, however, struggling at centre-back in the first half, and only marginally improving when given a more progressive role on Klopp’s switch to a back three.
Ragnar Klavan – 5
Alongside Randall, Gomez and Alberto Moreno, Klavan was Klopp’s experienced head in defence, and the Estonian did show more composure than his youthful colleagues—though he was far from effective.
Liverpool were caught on the break too often, and Klavan’s lack of pace was exposed, while he did not perform with the thrust that either Joel Matip or Mamadou Sakho are able to provide.
Alberto Moreno – 5
Called upon for a rare appearance at left-back, Moreno did perform with the adventure that many supporters have been clamouring for as first-choice option James Milner goes through a poor patch of form.
Like his fellow defenders, he struggled when Wolves surged forward, though, but the Spaniard did at least give the Reds the width they needed moving forward—albeit with little to show for it.
Lucas Leiva – 4
Captain on the day, Lucas was initially tasked with taking up Jordan Henderson‘s duties in the No. 6 role, breaking up play and distributing the ball quickly and decisively.
The Brazilian struggled to do so with any efficiency, and it was only when dropping back into defence in the second half that he showed some semblance of quality.
Georginio Wijnaldum – 4.5
Wijnaldum was a surprise omission from Klopp’s starting lineup at home to Southampton in the League Cup on Wednesday, but an anonymous showing against Paul Lambert’s Wolves may have indicated why he was left out.
The midfielder regularly found himself stepping on the toes of his fellow midfielders, and did not provide any meaningful support moving forward, with his 10-goal season target now far off.
Ovie Ejaria – 6
The 19-year-old was a marked upgrade on Wijnaldum in terms of ball retention, creativity and intelligent movement as Liverpool looked to navigate a packed final third, with Wolves’ defence settling in.
Ejaria is a phenomenally gifted technical player, and it can be argued that games such as this are crucial to his development, though he was unable to find the breakthrough Liverpool needed.
Roberto Firmino – 5.5
The only outfield player to keep his place in the starting lineup from Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Southampton, Firmino’s inclusion came as something of a surprise, but Klopp clearly felt he needed the Brazilian’s attacking nous.
But while he looked the most likely to trouble Harry Burgoyne in his 65 minutes on the field, Firmino could not muster the cutting edge required, with his threat nullified out wide.
Ben Woodburn – 6.5 (Man of the Match)
Woodburn made his fifth appearance for the Reds on Saturday afternoon, in his third start, and Liverpool can at least find solace in the 17-year-old’s vast potential despite the deflating result.
While he endured a quiet first half on the right wing, the Wales youth international improved significantly in the second period playing as a wing-back, and can be pleased with his contribution.
Divock Origi – 4
Having not scored in his last 10 appearances for the Reds, Origi was given yet another chance to impress as the spearhead of Klopp’s attack in the FA Cup, but while he ended his barren run late on, he was poor once again.
The Belgian is seemingly struggling with his positional duties—too often deep, too often wide—while he regularly snatched at half chances and long shots as frustration set in.
Philippe Coutinho (on for Randall, 46′) – 6 – Looked the most likely to find a breakthrough, but struggled to pick the lock.
Daniel Sturridge (on for Firmino, 65′) – 4 – Arguably in the worst form of his life.
Emre Can (on for Ejaria, 74′) – 5 – Added another body to the attack, but made little impact.
Subs not used: Mignolet, Milner, Stewart, Wilson
Jurgen Klopp – 5
Klopp made a point of lavishing praise on his opposite number, Lambert, as he prepared to welcome the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder to Anfield.
But the Reds manager won’t have been expecting to be so comprehensively outclassed on the touchline.
Lambert played the tactical game to perfection, modifying the more cynical setup that the likes of Plymouth Argyle and Southampton have deployed in previous games against the Reds and encouraging his side to push forward whenever possible.
Meanwhile, Klopp witnessed the same staid, unimaginative play that he has grown accustomed to from Liverpool in 2017, and it was only at half-time that he showed any sign of changing the game.