Pedro Chirivella was in good form and Marko Grujic made a positive debut on a positive week of action for Liverpool’s loaned men.
All of the borrowed Reds were back and available for action this week, with all winter breaks across Europe now completed.
Seven loanees featured, but Sheyi Ojo missed out through injury while Corey Whelan and Ryan Kent were unused subs at their respective clubs—and Naby Keita served a one-match ban.
Here’s how those who did play fared across the week.
One Red was in impressive form…
Chirivella started 2018 with a bang, impressing with an influential performance in which he claimed an assist in Willem II’s 1-1 draw with Groningen.
The Spaniard operated in a different role at the base of a midfield diamond, and from there he stood out as one of the Dutch side’s best players as he dictated play and shielded his defence well.
Chirivella was also involved in his side’s second-half equaliser, as he fed the ball to Ismail Azzoui who scored a fine solo effort—technically earning himself an assist.
It would be kind to call such a simple pass an ‘assist’ in truth, but the pleasing aspect was Chirivella’s decision-making as he opted to recycle possession rather than lob a hopeful cross in or shoot.
It was a promising start to the year for Chirivella, whose task for the second half of the campaign is to step up and become a leader of this Willem II team.
Meanwhile, Marko Grujic enjoyed a promising debut…
After joining Championship promotion chasers Cardiff on Wednesday, the Serbian was thrown straight in for his debut against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
Grujic was tasked with shielding the Bluebirds’ defence as the deepest midfielder, and he did a disciplined job to help keep a clean sheet in what was a positive first display.
Grujic showed signs of what he will provide Neil Warnock’s side as he used his physicality to break up play—which earned him a customary booking—alongside showing neat touches and passes.
The 21-year-old also went close to scoring what would have been a dream debut goal, but he saw a powerful long-range drive pushed round the post in the first-half.
It was an encouraging start, and Grujic will be determined to build on this to play a role for the rest of the season at Cardiff City Stadium.
And another five Reds also featured…
Connor Randall was the best of the rest and he picked up from where he left off before the break by continuing his fine form in Hearts’ 1-0 Edinburgh derby win over Hibernian.
Randall, who has impressed since playing consistently in his natural role, featured in a changed position in the Scottish Cup tie—which would have spread nervousness among Hearts’ fan given his struggles earlier this season.
But Randall adapted seamlessly to the right wing-back berth, excelling particularly with the defensive requirements of the role as he helped keep a clean sheet in a sweet victory.
The Belgian top flight was back in action which meant so too was Taiwo Awoniyi at Royal Excel Mouscron.
It was a disappointing start to 2018 for the Nigerian, who was in quiet form as he played all of a 2-0 loss to the title chasers on Friday night.
Divock Origi played the entirety of Wolfsburg’s 3-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, and enjoyed another outing in his preferred central striking position.
The Belgian struggled to impose himself and turned in a largely ineffective performance, but this admittedly was not helped by a lack of service throughout as well as his side going down to 10-men in the second-half.
It was another week of intermittent action for Allan Rodrigues, who was left out of the midweek clash with Omonia Nicosia but again returned straight to a starting role against Aris on Sunday.
The Brazilian was deployed as part of a midfield double-pivot in his side’s 4-2-3-1 formation, and he played all 90 minutes of a narrow 1-0 win.
And finally, Matty Virtue was the only lower league Red in action, the academy midfielder enjoying another hour-long outing in Notts County’s 2-1 defeat to Exeter.
Despite the loss, Virtue was bright with another busy performance in midfield—though he may feel he could have done more to prevent Exeter’s second as he as was beaten one-against-one.
Liverpool’s Loanees This Week
- Origi – Played 90 mins vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
- Grujic – Played 78 mins vs. Sheffield Wednesday
- Kent – Unused sub vs. Derby
- Chirivella – Played 90 mins & assisted vs. Groningen
- Randall – Played 90 mins vs. Hibernian
- Awoniyi – Played 90 mins vs. Charleroi
- Allan – Left out of matchday squad vs. Omonia Nicosia & played 90 mins vs. Aris
- Virtue – Played 62 mins vs. Exeter
- Whelan – Unused sub vs. Chesterfield
- Ojo – Uninvolved vs. Burton due to injury
- Keita – Uninvolved vs. Freiburg due to one-game ban