Ejaria shines, Phillips’ crazy comeback & Ojo’s semi-final success – Liverpool FC Loan Watch

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Ovie Ejaria continued his fine form at Reading with an assist, while Nathaniel Phillips had a somewhat eventful return to action at Stuttgart.

It was back to a full schedule for Jurgen Klopp’s borrowed Reds and nine loanees played of the 11 available for action.

More pleasingly, the Reds were back to the more productive form that we had come to expect.

Two assists were delivered while several loanees produced impressive performances, none more so than the in-form Ejaria.

 

Another influential display & another assist…

Ovie Ejaria, Reading (Mike Egerton/PA Archive/PA Images)

Ejaria has been lighting up Reading’s Madejski Stadium with electric form since finding a settled place in the starting XI.

He was as it again on Saturday with another eye-catching performance including a decisive contribution to lead Reading to a 2-1 win against Millwall.

Ejaria provided an assist for what would prove to be the winner: injecting the attack with a driving run through midfield before finding Sam Baldock who struck a great finish.

This was Ejaria’s second Championship assist of the season, added to two goals from 14 appearances in all competitions.

Such numbers may not make for particularly spectacular reading, but the ever-rising level of Ejaria’s performances certainly make up for that.

 

An assist & eventful return for zero-to-hero Phillips…

Nathaniel Phillips (VFB Stuttgart), (Image: Frank Hoermann/SVEN SIMON/DPA/PA Images)

It has been a frustrating period for Phillips, being restricted to just 72 minutes of play at 2.Bundesliga outfit Stuttgart since early September.

He has certainly had to wait patiently for a chance to impress again, having fallen out of favour despite making a positive start to his time in Germany.

That opportunity arrived on Sunday, as he was recalled to the starting team for the first time in a month with Stuttgart hosting bottom-of-the-table Dynamo Dresden.

What an eventful comeback it was.

In a 3-1 win for Stuttgart, Phillips went from villain—after conceding a penalty—to hero, when producing an assist for the victory-sealing third goal.

After a solid first half, Phillips’s ill-judged tackle after the break was penalised with a spot-kick, which Dynamo converted to come back into the game at 2-1.

Such a moment could see an inexperienced player lose confidence and descend into a downward spiral performance-wise.

But Phillips showed encouraging mental strength to bounce back perfectly with his first assist at senior level to restore the two-goal cushion and secure the three points.

Five minutes from time, the centre-back picked out Silas Wamangituka, who finished after a strong run to wrap up the victory.

Such a spirited response and key contribution to secure victory will hopefully earn Phillips another chance to rediscover his best form.

 

Semi-final success for one Red…

Sheyi Ojo of Rangers during the Scottish Premier League match between Hearts and Rangers at Tynecastle Park on 20 October, 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Ewan Bootman/NurPhoto)

It was a big weekend for Sheyi Ojo, as Rangers prepared for a League Cup semi-final clash against Hearts.

The winger has been in quiet form—with only one goal contribution in his last seven outings—but a midweek assist against Ross County earned Ojo a starting role in the cup tie.

There was extra pressure on the Gers coming into the game, having failed at this stage of the competition in all of the last five seasons.

But there was no painful repeat, as a lively performance from Ojo helped Steven Gerrard’s side record a comfortable 3-0 win.

The triumph now sets up a mouth-watering Old Firm clash with arch-rivals Celtic in the final, to be played on December 8.

How Gerrard would love his first piece of silverware as a manager to come that day, and Ojo will now have the chance to bring that to fruition.

 

Plenty of positives for the remaining Reds…

16 August 2019, Bavaria, Munich: Soccer: Bundesliga, Matchday 1, FC Bayern Munich - Hertha BSC in the Allianz Arena. Herthas Marko Grujic cheers his goal to 1:2. (IMPORTANT NOTE: According to the regulations of the DFL Deutsche Fu?ball Liga and the DFB Deutscher Fu?ball-Bund it is prohibited to use or have used photos taken in the stadium and/or the match in the form of sequence pictures and/or video-like photo sequences.) Photo: Matthias Balk/dpa

Phillips wasn’t the only Red to have an eventful time in Germany, with Marko Grujic experiencing similar fortunes.

After also making himself a hero by firing home the winning penalty against the same opponents in the DFB-Pokal, the Serbian and his side suffered an historic derby-day loss.

Hertha went down 1-0 to city rivals Union Berlin in what was the first-ever Bundesliga meeting between the sides, with Grujic unable to repeat his heroics.

On to more straightforward success and Harry Wilson added another memorable outing against Man United to his collection, featuring as Bournemouth earned a deserved 1-0 victory.

Liverpool’s loaned goalkeepers have been in great form and that continued with wins all round.

Loris Karius helped Besiktas record back-to-back wins for the first time this season, with a 2-1 success at Antalyaspor following last week’s Istanbul derby triumph over Galatasaray.

Huddersfield Town goalkeeper Kamil Grabara (Tim Goode/EMPICS Sport)

And Kamil Grabara maintained his own impressive run at Huddersfield by keeping a third clean sheet in five games to earn a vital three points with a 1-0 win at Brentford.

Most pleasing about this form is that it has come directly after the 20-year-old made a costly error against Millwall at the end of September, which really could have derailed him.

So to see Grabara bounce back so strongly after that error, and do so by raising his performances to the next level in the process, is especially pleasing to see.

North of the border, Liam Millar has earned his place back in Kilmarnock’s starting XI and enjoyed a second successive start at Aberdeen on Saturday.

That was as good as things got though, as a miserable afternoon at Pittodrie saw Killie beaten 3-0.

Finally, Allan Rodrigues continues to be a mainstay of Fluminense’s midfield, and the Brazilian made his 28th appearance of the season in a goalless draw with Vasco on Saturday.


Liverpool’s Loanees This Weekend

Goalkeeper Loris Karius of Besiktas during the Turkish Superlig Match between Bursaspor and Besiktas at Buyuksehir Belediye Stadium in Bursa , Turkey on September 02 , 2018 (Seskimphoto/Imago/PA Images)

Injured: Ben Woodburn, Rhys Williams
Not in action: Taiwo Awoniyi, Anderson Arroyo

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