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Curtis Jones at the double as Liverpool U23s draw at Arsenal

Liverpool Under-23s took a two-goal lead at Arsenal on Saturday afternoon, before being pegged back and forced to settle for a 2-2 draw.

The squad contained eight players who were involved with the seniors in midweek in the League Cup, six who featured under Jurgen Klopp plus Adam Lewis and Luis Longstaff, who were unused subs.

Ki-Jana Hoever reverted to centre-back after his outing on the right on Wednesday night, partnering Sepp van den Berg who made his Reds’ debut the same evening.

Fellow debutant Rhian Brewster started up front, but Harvey Elliott was only on the bench here for the U23s.

While they might have been asked to step back down a level here for this encounter, there appeared to be no negativity at not being involved in the Premier League squad—particularly as the Reds built up a first-half lead.

Curtis Jones earned the Man of the Match award on British television against MK Dons and he was in the thick of the action here, the captain netting twice to put the Reds in a commanding lead.

BOREHAMWOOD, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 28, 2019: Liverpool's Curtis Jones leads out the team during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at Meadow Park. (Pic by Kunjan Malde/Propaganda)

First Neco Williams provided the assist for Jones to open the scoring on the half-hour mark, before Herbie Kane teed him up for a second less than 10 minutes later, his fifth of the season in Premier League 2.

Had the Reds managed to get to the break with their lead intact they may have seen out the game differently, but Arsenal pulled one back before half time, Nathan Tormey the scorer.

Arsenal fielded a handful of first-team options themselves in the quest for fitness and form, and one of those set up the equaliser after the hour mark: Hector Bellerin assisting Folarin Balogun for 2-2.

Yasser Larouci and Elliott were both introduced in the second half off the bench, as well as Tom Clayton late on, but the young Reds had to settle for a draw on this occasion.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - Sunday, July 28, 2019: Liverpool's Harvey Elliott during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and SSC Napoli at Murrayfield Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The result leaves them with just one win from seven in league play this season, 11th place in the 12-team league, with three draws in a row most recently.

It’s the 20 goals conceded so far which might be of most concern, from the standpoint of having the youngsters mentally and tactically ready to step up and partake in the must-win environment of the first team, rather than anything results-oriented at this level.

Liverpool U23s: Winterbottom; Williams, Hoever, Van den Berg, Gallacher; Dixon-Bonner, Kane (Clayton 90′), Lewis (Larouci 52′); Longstaff, Jones, Brewster (Elliott 77′).

Unused sub: Atherton.

Next game: Wigan Athletic – home – Premier League Cup – 6 October, 3pm

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