Returning seniors fail to impress as impeccable standards slip – Media on Shrewsbury 2-2 Liverpool

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The media were unimpressed with Liverpool’s senior players and the way the Reds let standards slip in the 2-2 draw at Shrewsbury in the FA Cup.

Jurgen Klopp’s side wasted the chance to cruise into the fifth round, surrendering a two-goal lead to their League One opponents.

Curtis Jones and a great own-goal from Donald Love appeared to have put the Reds through, but Jason Cummings’ brace completed a spirited comeback to earn Shrewsbury a deserved replay.

It was a rare bad day at the office for Liverpool and Klopp will have been disappointed with the sloppiness of the display – especially as it adds an unwanted fixture to the schedule.

Here’s all the analysis from the media on the surprise draw.

 

Members of the media assessed Liverpool were fortunate to still be in the competition…

SHREWSBURY, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 26, 2020: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp reacts during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Shrewsbury Town FC and Liverpool FC at the New Meadow. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle wrote as such, noting how the Reds were lucky not be more heavily punished for an “appalling” second-half:

Had Liverpool lost then nobody would have complained on the strength of their second-half performance which, for a good half-hour, bordered on the appalling.

The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe was more romantic in his final assessment, focussing on how it was a result that breathed some much-needed life into the increasingly stale cup tournament:

Anfield now beckons for their 7000 followers, the competition seemingly given the romantic serenade it needed after a grim weekend of dire ties, minnow demolishing and high profile managers demanding a change of format.

Paul Gorst, of the Liverpool Echo, thinks the replay will provide another great test for the youngsters on a night they will be expected to deliver victory:

The FA Cup unashamedly represents the lowest priority for the Reds this season with the Premier League still to be won and the defence of their Champions League crown resuming next month, but the world’s oldest cup competition has opened the door for some to step into the Anfield spotlight this term.

Bascombe sees no reason why Shrewsbury can’t cause “the greatest shock in their history” at Anfield against what will be even more youthful Reds side:

Shrewsbury’s reward was deserved and they can cause more discomfort at Anfield.

How romantic facing Liverpool’s Under 23s will be is for cup historians to debate but – on paper at least – the greatest shock in their history is not beyond them.

 

Reporters were unimpressed and also surprised by how the Reds let standards slip in a sloppy performance…

SHREWSBURY, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 26, 2020: Liverpool's Curtis Jones looks dejected as his side draw 2-2 and supporters invade the pitch during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Shrewsbury Town FC and Liverpool FC at the New Meadow. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The BBC’s Neil Johnston wrote how Klopp’s side “only have themselves to blame” for not finishing the tie at the first attempt:

Having played 37 games this season, including two in Qatar for the Fifa Club World Cup and another in Isatanbul for the European Super Cup back in August, Liverpool could have done without an additional fixture.

Yet Liverpool only have themselves to blame for failing to finish the job in Shropshire.

ESPN’s Harry Kettle thought Liverpool were too sloppy in defence and lacked the usual ruthlessness to finish the tie once and for all:

There was an element of sloppiness to Liverpool’s game at times, especially at the back.

It felt like they thought they had the tie wrapped up which, of course, swung the door wide open for Shrewsbury to build their way back into proceedings.

Kettle also felt Liverpool were too lightweight in midfield, assessing that the Reds didn’t put up enough of a fight in the middle of the park:

They also seemed to get bullied in the middle of the park as a result of the distinct lack of experience compared to the first team.

The Mirror’s Darren Wells explained how the experience will have been valuable for the young Reds involved, with this lesson in how standards have to be maintained at all times:

Nevertheless it was another worthy experience for the youngsters, and hugely beneficial to their long-term development.

And discussing the overall display, Wells saw problems with the high defensive line which Shrewsbury breached, assessing that this could provide opponents with some hope when facing the Reds:

It’s become an increasingly noticeable trait in this Liverpool side to see the defence push high up the pitch in an attempt to catch their opponents offside.

[…]

You can hardly argue with Jurgen Klopp‘s approach at present, with his side cruising to the Premier League title, and sweeping aside every team in their way; but it’s not the first time the opposition have breached the back four. Shrewsbury scored twice – a better side would have got more.

 

Journalists criticised the performances of the senior players and felt the youngsters fared better…

SHREWSBURY, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 26, 2020: Liverpool's Dejan Lovren (R) and Shrewsbury Town's Callum Lang during the FA Cup 4th Round match between Shrewsbury Town FC and Liverpool FC at the New Meadow. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

First of all, Wells rightly pointed out that the fixture provided a useful workout, allowing the senior players returning from injury to get some much-needed minutes:

But despite failing to impress, the match will have been a crucial exercise for the two stars to shake off the cobwebs, and they will be key for Liverpool in the remaining months of the season.

Doyle was most critical of the senior players, assessing that the experienced Reds let down the youngsters on a day older heads needed to provide guidance:

Instead, the youngsters were let down by some iffy displays by more seasoned campaigners around them, the likes of Dejan Lovren and in particular Joel Matip – both back after lengthy spells out – prompting panic at the start of the second half that ultimately gifted Shrewsbury the momentum to play their way back into the game.

Kettle thought Dejan Lovren was particularly poor, putting the Croatian at fault for Shrewsbury’s equaliser:

The confident defender looked like he didn’t want to be there for most of the game, with his poor defensive work in the second half opening the door for Shrewsbury’s equaliser.

Our own Henry Jackson assessed Fabinho just as guilty, and thinks the Brazilian, as well as Lovren and Joel Matip, will all have to wait to get a place back in Liverpool’s strongest XI:

In the first half, it was Fabinho who looked the weak-link, regularly losing the ball and appearing to run in treacle at times. Then, it was Lovren and Matip’s turn after the interval, with the pair the key culprits in Liverpool falling to pieces against League One opposition.

[…]

On this evidence, all three returning stars will take a while to return to Liverpool’s starting lineup in the Premier League.

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 23, 2020: Liverpool's Takumi Minamino celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Mirror’s James Nursey was unimpressed with Takumi Minamino and thought the new signing was too “lightweight” and struggled leading the attack:

But the newboy seemed noticeably lightweight in a central forward role as he was brushed off the ball and struggled to link play.

[…]

Minamino’s lack of physical presence made it hard for him against the dogged opposition.

And focussing on the youngsters, Carl Markham, for the Belfast Telegraph, thought Pedro Chirivella and Curtis Jones were the two most impressive youngsters:

But in spite of the presence of those more experienced players, it was the two stars of the win over the Toffees who continued to seize every opportunity given to them by Klopp.

Pedro Chirivella, who impressed in midfield last time out, played the incisive through-ball down the inside-left channel for Jones to casually stroke past Max O’Leary.

The 18-year-old has a self-confidence bordering on the cocky but that does not mean he is not prepared to put in the hard work and just moments after his goal he was tracking back inside his own penalty area to dispossess Callum Lang.

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