A place in the fifth round of the FA Cup was secured thanks to the inspired efforts of Liverpool’s young guns, leaving plenty to discuss post match.
The occasion was one which was met with various responses by those inside and outside of the club, for good and bad.
Jurgen Klopp’s decision to “respect” the winter break saw him accused of “disrespecting” the FA Cup, only for his young stars to dazzle under the Anfield lights and inject renewed magic into the competition.
Neil Critchley led the club’s youngest ever side, with an average age of 19 years and 102 days, to a memorable victory where an own-goal from the visitors saw the Reds emerge with a deserved victory.
A showdown with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was therefore confirmed as the competition dwindles down to the last 16.
Here, This Is Anfield’s Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) is joined by Chris McLoughlin (@chrismackop) and Katie (@kaytayking) to delve into the highs and lows from the victory and discuss how best to tackle the chance at another piece of silverware.
Chris: It was a night when I felt hugely proud to be a Liverpool supporter.
It was like boys vs. men out there, with the boys looking like the men and the visiting players looking like Shrews caught in the headlights.
Singling out individuals on a night when the youngest team in LFC history played with the Liverpool identity – an identity Klopp has instilled at every level – somehow seems unfair, but I thought Neco Williams was exceptional at right-back.
He should really have scored, possibly more than once, but some of the goalscoring positions he got into were reminiscent of a young Stevie Nicol.
Curtis Jones, Pedro Chirivella and Sepp van den Berg also caught the eye, but it was a real team effort to beat a League One side full of experienced professionals who simply couldn’t match the Reds’ fitness, speed, effort and skill.
Katie: It was a great turnout for the young lads at Anfield, in turn, it was a great experience for young Liverpool fans.
There were lots of beaming young faces dotted around the ground and it was refreshing to say the least.
The atmosphere wasn’t to the raucous standard that we’ve seen in the league this season, but it was enough. Enough to spur on the youthful Liverpool side to a very inspired performance.
And the abundance of young talent- Jones, Elliott and Williams are certainly all worthy of individual mentions.
Joanna: Just thinking about the game and result brings a smile to my dial.
We were comprehensively superior to Shrewsbury and the young Reds looked at home on the big stage, never out of place and assured in their abilities.
This lot Liverpool have coming through the ranks are spunky and are certainly not short on confidence.
As Chris and Katie nodded to, Jones and Williams were the clear standouts and are certainly putting their hand up for a senior selection – while Chirivella was on top form once more.
A notable mention has to be given to Van den Berg, he has looked slightly off the pace in his career thus far but that was the most composed I’ve seen him play across all levels.
This club, not just the first team, know nothing but how to win and thanks to their efforts the chance for a quintet of trophies remains well and truly on the cards.
Chris: Other than the horrendous traffic issues on the M62 that left Anfield looking like a ghost town an hour before kick-off, the only major negative was that it took an own goal from Ro-Shaun Wiliams to settle it the game.
In an ideal world, the Shrewsbury defender would have missed Williams’ cross and Elliott would’ve headed home to give him a huge match-winning moment in front of the Kop.
Can you imagine him telling his mates about it on the school playground today? At least Elliott celebrated it like it was his goal, and why shouldn’t he have?
Had he not made the run Ro-Shaun Williams wouldn’t have added his name to the list of Shrewsbury players to score crazy own goals for Liverpool – Dave Walton in 1996 and Donald Love a fortnight ago – and the young Reds may well have had a penalty shoot-out to negotiate to get through.
Katie: For all the noise made by Shrewsbury about yesterday’s game being a fairytale tie – the atmosphere at times was quite volatile.
Moreover, it seemed to be that the only way for Shrewsbury to break down Liverpool’s momentum was to attempt to kick the youngsters off the pitch.
The referee turned a blind eye to most of these instances leaving the young lads without much on-field support.
Joanna: As Chris noted, on a performance level it was a shame not to see us put the ball in the net directly from a Red as a result of a lack of cutting edge, as expected.
Other than that you cannot complain!
Although one thing I can complain about is the lack of coverage and the need to do a deep dive into the depths of the internet to find a means to do so.
While coverage of a replay was not compulsory for the FA, it severely dented their own argument of respecting the cup. Liverpool will always demand a viewership worldwide even if it was the U10s in the fixture.
Either way, it was going to be a brilliant tale, Shrewsbury setting up another tie with a Premier League club or a team of teenagers sweeping an experienced League One outfit to the side.
A missed opportunity and petulance of the highest order. We certainly stuck our middle finger up to them and I for one, love it.
And with the chance for another trophy intact, how would you like to see Klopp take on Chelsea?
Chris: What happens in the FA Cup Fifth Round at Chelsea? Klopp goes strong again.
At least stronger than we saw against Shrewsbury. How strong will depend on the state of play in the Premier League and what has happened in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 against Atletico Madrid, but I fully expect to see the likes of Adrian, Lovren, Milner, Lallana, Minamino and Origi mixing it with Williams, Jones and Chirivella.
Who knows, Xherdan Shaqiri may even rise from the abyss to don the famous red shirt again. I’ve heard some chatter that Klopp may play his strongest XI in the FA Cup and rest players against Bournemouth because his side have got such a big lead in the Premier League.
Which I’d like to see him do just for banter as then he can complete the treble of being accused of disrespecting the League Cup, FA Cup and Premier League all in the same season…
Katie: I’d love to see a mix of youthful and experienced players for the tie against a Chelsea.
The young players have shown they are more than capable of performing as they have eliminated a full strength Everton and now Shrewsbury side.
However, I think a tie at Stamford Bridge is a game that will demand Klopp to field his more senior players.
I expect Chelsea will go full strength – but with Liverpool having a game against Bournemouth which could be scheduled a mere 48 hours after the fifth round tie, I think we should expect to see some of the standout youth players amongst the starting eleven.
Either way, I expect it to be an exciting tie as Liverpool aim to add to their domestic prowess.
Joanna: It gets interesting at this point. We find ourselves in an envious position of still competing in three competitions, where one includes a 22-point lead.
With the tie positioned between two league games, it opens up a world of possibilities as Klopp can now look to be flexible with such a vast array of options at his disposal.
And for me, a handful of youngsters have to be rewarded and see the competition through.
They’ve proven they’re more than up for the task and to gain experience alongside some more experienced heads against another member of the topflight is just rewards.
And can I just say, I love that we’re having all these discussions about how to handle various pursuits of trophies – what a club.