“More signs of promise from youngsters and a good experience” – Media on Plymouth 0-1 Liverpool

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The media felt Liverpool’s youngsters repaid Jurgen Klopp’s faith as the Reds saw off Plymouth Argyle in a tricky FA Cup third-round replay with a narrow 1-0 win.

A rare goal from Lucas Leiva, who headed home from Philippe Coutinho’s corner in the first half, ensured Klopp’s youngsters progressed to round four of the famous cup competition.

It was far from a cup classic at Home Park, where neither side produced a particularly inspiring performance, but the likeable Brazilian’s first goal for 201 games proved enough to set up an Anfield tie with Championship outfit, Wolves.

However, Klopp will take great satisfaction from the way his young Reds rose to the challenge to earn a hard-fought win, moving on swiftly to put the disappointment of the Anfield stalemate behind them.

Here is how the media assessed the night’s events at Home Park.

PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 18, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match against Plymouth Argyle at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

On a night all about earning victory regardless of how it came, reporters felt it was a case of “job done” for the young Reds, who repaid Klopp’s faith for sticking by them after a frustrating afternoon in the first meeting.

ESPN’s Steven Kelly drew positives from the Reds winning when not at their best to come through a tricky tie unscathed:

Some more signs of promise from youngsters and a good experience for them too. Ultimately, winning the game is all that matters against lower league opposition when there is little to gain and a lot to lose should things go wrong.

The Mirror’s David Anderson felt all of the youngsters involved justified Klopp’s decision to give them a second chance to seal progression:

He has not lost faith in the likes of Ben Woodburn, Kevin Stewart, Ovie Ejaria and Trent Alexander-Arnold because of the goalless draw at Anfield 10 days ago. They have served him well in Liverpool’s run to the EFL Cup semis and the Reds boss knew tonight was a great learning experience for them.

And discussing the manager’s night, Kelly felt it was a case of “mission accomplished” for Klopp:

He got the job done and gave another youngster his debut. He will worry about how toothless Liverpool seemed at times, but getting through without using first-choice players was the mission, and it was accomplished.

But ESPN colleague, Mark Ogden, like Kelly, was, unimpressed by Liverpool’s attacking performance and feels the current struggle for goals will be a concern for Klopp:

But having been unable to score past League Two Plymouth during 90 frustrating minutes at Anfield earlier this month, winning by a solitary goal against a team lying 67 places beneath his side in the football pyramid will give Klopp cause for concern.

[…]

The team that hit four past Arsenal, Leicester and Crystal Palace, five past Hull and six past Watford has now scored just twice in four games.

Ogden also believes the Reds are struggling to find an effective way of attack without Sadio Mane:

The loss of Sadio Mane to African Nations Cup duty is clearly hurting Liverpool, who miss the forward’s pace and ability to stretch teams. He could yet be away for another month, so Liverpool need to find a way to rediscover the cutting edge that tore opponents apart early in the season.

Reporters heaped praised on unlikely match-winner, Lucas, with numerous journalists noting the Brazilian’s understated importance to Liverpool.

PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 18, 2017: Liverpool's Lucas Leiva celebrates scoring the first goal against Plymouth Argyle during the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Mirror’s John Cross believes every club needs a player like “loyal servant”, Lucas:

Every club needs a player like Lucas, the loyal servant ready to fill in where necessary and do it with the sort of commitment needed to avoid becoming the big story of the FA Cup third round.

[…]

But on nights like these you need big hearts and experience and that is exactly what Lucas gave Liverpool because Plymouth gave them a few scares on a bitter night in the West Country.

Writing for JOE.co.uk, Tony Barrett praised Lucas’ dedication, and feels the Brazilian’s understated importance should not be underestimated.

But when selected, he can be relied upon to give his all, to use his experience to good effect and to perform with typical diligence. Those are qualities that should not be underrated, even if there are individuals in the current Liverpool team who have ones that catch the eye more readily.

[…]

In terms of dedication to the cause, willingness to persevere whatever the odds and commitment to his team mates, the midfielder has few peers in the modern game.

Kelly praised Lucas for leading by example:

He led the side well and even scored the goal from a corner, amazingly his first in seven years. He played his part in keeping good possession during a second half in which Liverpool focused on taking the sting out of the game, rather than putting it out of Plymouth’s reach.

Reporters reflected on hugely disappointing nights for Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi, with journalists unanimously feeling neither striker did anywhere near enough to prove they are worthy of a place in Liverpool’s strongest lineup.

PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 18, 2017: Liverpool's Divock Origi sees his penalty kick saved during the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match against Plymouth Argyle at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Kelly felt the strike duo did little to convince Klopp they deserve more game time, despite a lack of service:

Both strikers (Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge) suffered from poor service but did little to suggest the manager should use them more often.

Anderson was among those who felt Sturridge failed to take his opportunity to impress:

Daniel Sturridge is getting his opportunity this month because Sadio Mane is away with Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations, but he is not grabbing his chance. Although he should have had a first-half penalty, he did not really trouble Plymouth.

The Mail’s Martin Samuel labelled Sturridge’s performance “woeful”:

Sturridge was woeful. He didn’t look like an England international, he didn’t look like a Liverpool player, he looked no better than Plymouth’s men, in fact.

[…]

When he was replaced in the 75th minute by Sheyi Ojo, it was not because Liverpool were comfortable or had the game won.

However, the Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle sympathised with Sturridge:

This wasn’t Sturridge’s night, but at least he stuck at it even if he could point to a distinct lack of service and being somewhat isolated, particularly during the first half.

Echo colleague, James Pearce assessed how Origi is low on confidence:

As for Origi, his recent slump is a source of real concern. His late penalty miss at Home Park compounded a wretched night for him.

It’s now eight games without a goal and his confidence has clearly taken a battering.

Doyle feels Origi’s loss of form has come at a bad time:

Origi, as at Old Trafford, was woefully off the pace, losing form at the precise moment Klopp has become more reliant on his undoubted attributes.

PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 18, 2017: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold in action against Plymouth Argyle during the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay match at Home Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And discussing other performers at Home Park, Pearce felt the senior players – bar Lucas – disappointed on the night:

Lucas aside, it was the more senior players who went AWOL in a contest which Liverpool finished with six teenagers on the field.

Meanwhile, Doyle was among the numerous journalists hugely impressed by Trent Alexander-Arnold’s performance:

But that this wasn’t even his biggest game this week indicates the great strides the 18-year-old is already making at Anfield.

The confidence gained from his impressive first Premier League start at Manchester United on Sunday was evident here with a hugely self-assured display.

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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