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Lazar Markovic fails to fire for Liverpool U23s on night marred by serious injury

Liverpool U23s slumped to a 4-0 defeat to Arsenal on Friday evening, with some poor defending proving very costly.

Arsenal U23s 4-0 Liverpool U23s

Premier League 2, Meadow Park
September 21, 2018

Goals: Saka 21′, Nketiah 25′, 90′, Willock 79′

Neil Critchley‘s side took on the reigning Premier League 2 champions at Boreham Wood’s Meadow Park, following last weekend’s 3-0 victory over Swansea City.

Critchley named a strong starting lineup, making five changes in total.

Kamil Grabara, Isaac Christie-Davies, Lazar Markovic, Bobby Adekanye and Liam Millar came in for Kai McKenzie-Lyle, Nathaniel Clyne, Curtis Jones, Dominic Solanke and Divock Origi.

There was also a place on the substitutes’ bench for exciting youngster Edvard Tagseth—a player hailed by Steven Gerrard during his stint as U18s boss last season.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Friday, August 17, 2018: Liverpool's Isaac Christie-Davies during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at Meadow Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Critchley makes five changes after Swansea victory, Markovic starts
  • Saka & Nketiah fire Arsenal into 2-0 half-time lead
  • Markovic poor as missed chances prove key
  • Willock & Nketiah complete victory late on
  • Adekanye stretchered off with serious knee injury
  • Just one win in six league games for young Reds

It was Liverpool who enjoyed more of the ball early on, with Arsenal, managed by former Gunners favourite Freddie Ljungberg, happy to sit deep.

Tolaji Bola brought down Adekanye just outside the penalty area, with the Arsenal man fortunate not to see a red card. He wasn’t even booked, bizarrely, and Adam Lewis curled the resulting free-kick just wide.

Millar blew a wonderful opportunity to play in Adekanye after a flowing counter-attack and Deyan Iliev saved from Rafa Camacho.

Despite Liverpool’s early dominance it was Arsenal who took the lead, with Bukayo Saka finishing well past Grabara from close range.

The hosts’ lead was swiftly doubled, with some terrible Reds defending, especially from Nathaniel Phillips, allowing Eddie Nketiah to fire home.

It was dawdling of the highest order, with the centre-back losing the ball directly in front of goal.

Matty Virtue saw a goal-bound shot blocked, as the Reds desperately searched for a quick response, with Markovic also heading inches wide.

Tyreece John-Jules came extremely close to putting Arsenal out of sight shortly before the break and was then superbly denied by Grabara.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Friday, August 17, 2018: Liverpool's Lazar Markovic during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at Meadow Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Tony Gallacher replaced Millar at the interval, with lots of work to do for Liverpool.

Grabara was again busy at the other end, making another important stop, and Adekanye almost reduced the arrears, squeezing an effort narrowly wide.

The speedy winger was then denied on the line as the Reds upped their game, with Iliev making a smart save to keep out Markovic’s header.

Grabara, comfortably Liverpool’s best player on the night, twice made saves to keep his side in the contest, but time was fast running out.

Markovic, whose attitude appeared questionable throughout, missed a gilt-edged opportunity with the goal gaping, and was substituted for Glen McAuley soon after.

Joe Willock finished in slick fashion and Nketiah got his second of the game in stoppage time, putting the icing on the cake for Arsenal.

It was a bitterly disappointing night for Critchley and his players, compounded as Adekanye was stretchered off late on with a knee injury.

The defeat means the Merseysiders have won just one of their opening six Premier League 2 games this season, drawing three and losing the other two.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Friday, August 17, 2018: Liverpool's goalkeeper Kamil Grabara during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at Meadow Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

TIA Man of the Match: Kamil Grabara

Liverpool: Grabara; Camacho, Phillips, Johnston, Lewis; Chirivella, Virtue, Christie-Davies (Coyle 74′); Adekanye, Millar (Gallacher 46′), Markovic (McAuley 78′)

Subs not used: McKenzie-Lyle, Tagseth

Next Match: Chelsea (A) – Premier League 2 – September 29, 12pm

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