Liverpool’s first team finally got back to winning ways over the weekend, while plenty of out-on-loan players were handed further experience and game time too.
It wasn’t a weekend to follow the usual recent pattern, with goals galore scored or assisted by the talented youngsters who have departed on a temporary basis.
Indeed, not one of the on-loan Reds managed to net or create a goal this weekend – or keep a clean sheet, for the goalkeepers.
Instead, the most impressive showings came from a couple of full-backs who have had to overcome adversity and difficult challenges over the last year or two, and while a run-of-the-mill Saturday league game might not seem particularly exciting in the wider context of the game, becoming a regular and established player is exactly what these loan spells are for.
To that end, Sepp van den Berg‘s recent outings are a huge step forward.
With Preston this weekend he was once again deployed at right-back and once again gave a good account of himself – as a supporting, safe-playing ball-winner rather than a rampaging attacking outlet, of course.
His team won 3-0 to move into 13th, with the Dutchman completing back-to-back 90s in the space of three days, tallying five tackles, four interceptions and five clearances across those two matches for a notable progressive step.
One league further down, Adam Lewis was restored to the line-up with Plymouth, playing the vast majority of the game at left-wing back in a crazy 4-3 win.
This was his first League One start since mid-January and comes on the back of several recent run-outs off the bench. It remains to be seen if it was rotation or a case of winning back his place, but Lewis certainly had an impact in both halves with a shot, a couple of chances created and, defensively, two tackles won and a shot blocked.
The theme of returning to the line-up after difficult spells also applies to Loris Karius, who kept goal for Union Berlin for a third successive game.
His four Bundesliga appearances this season haven’t yet yielded a victory, but he was kept busy enough by Hoffenheim in a 1-1 draw, the away side having three shots on target.
It wasn’t a weekend for the attackers to impact on this occasion, with Harry Wilson starting and Sheyi Ojo coming on as sub as Cardiff drew, Harvey Elliott drawing a blank in Blackburn’s 1-1 with Coventry and Liam Millar being subbed at the break as Charlton made a poor start in an eventual 3-0 defeat to former Under-23 coach Neil Critchley and his Blackpool side.
Overseas, Kamil Grabara conceded three in a draw at the top end of the table, Marko Grujic was left to watch on from the bench as Porto were held by leaders Sporting CP and Colombian defender Anderson Arroyo featured in a friendly.
Liverpool Loan Watch Round-up
- Loris Karius – Union Berlin – 90 mins vs. Hoffenheim
- Harry Wilson – Cardiff – 67 mins vs. Middlesbrough
- Sheyi Ojo – Cardiff – 29 mins vs. Middlesbrough
- Harvey Elliott – Blackburn – 90 mins vs. Coventry
- Sepp van den Berg – Preston – 90 mins vs. Huddersfield
- Adam Lewis – Plymouth – 81 mins vs. Lincoln
- Liam Millar – Charlton – 45 mins vs. Blackpool
- Kamil Grabara – AGF Aarhus – 90 mins vs. Kobenhavn
- Anderson Arroyo – Salamanca – 75 mins vs. Extremadura (friendly)
Unused sub: Marko Grujic (Porto)
Injured: Taiwo Awoniyi (Union), Takumi Minamino (Southampton)
Season not yet started: Vitezslav Jaros (St. Pat’s)