08 January 2017

Liverpool 0-0 Plymouth Argyle

This is the Magic of The FA Cup©®™.

It's not the fading prestige of a domestic cup competition. It's not match-ups like this that we otherwise wouldn't see. It's not CUPSETS, and it's certainly not a League Two side earning a replay that Liverpool really didn't want.

The magic is this season's first appearances for Joe Gomez and Sheyi Ojo this season after long struggles with injury.

It's a full senior debut for Ben Woodburn, and a couple of dancing dribbles in the box.

It's third starts for Ovie Ejaria and Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ovie's awareness and movement and Trent's crosses and runs up and down the flank. It's Kevin Stewart, bless his heart, blasting too many unlikely shots from distance. It's a starting XI with an average age of less than 22 years. It's Liverpool's youngest starting XI is club history. It's Lucas Leiva having more Liverpool appearances (328) than the other ten players combined (319).

It is getting to see the future.

The future remains very, very bright, but I'd have preferred the future did better today.

That admittedly wasn't all that fun to watch. 77% possession. 28 shots, but 18 of them from outside the box. No clear-cut chances. 18 Liverpool corners, and the only close call coming when one of them almost went in off a Plymouth player. Woodburn denied from close range and a couple of headers Ojo didn't head well enough are about all that's worth mentioning until Klopp brought on reinforcements in the last half an hour.

Those reinforcements – Sturridge, Firmino, Lallana, for Can, Woodburn, and Ejaria – didn't help enough, with a couple of Sturridge shots from just outside the box dragged wide of note. Liverpool simply didn't do enough to break though, or even merit a break-through.

There's no real way to say "good for Plymouth" without sounding patronizing, but good for Plymouth, a side that's conceded just eight goals away from home in 11 League Two matches. Liverpool's youngest XI in club history spent 96 minutes unsuccessfully crashing into a green wall. It happens, to better and more experienced sides. It's happened to better and more experienced Liverpool sides.

Just like last season against Exeter, we'll get a replay, in an already-packed January featuring three more league fixtures and a League Cup semi-final, except this time the away match follows the home. Almost 300 miles away in the far southwest of England. Midweek next week, between a trip to Manchester United and hosting Swansea. So be it.

At least we'll get to see the future again.

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criynwa said...

On the money again, Nate! I was excited to see the kids play and happy to see Gomez and Ojo returning from injury. As the match wore on, it was clear we were tiring more than Plymouth and had kind of lost the plot. The kids weren't moving the ball fast enough, too static in the box. Not surprising. Breaking down a solid defensive wall is not easy, even for a mature, experienced, extremely talented side. Our best hope was for Mr. Own Goal but although he came close, it just didn't happen. Excited to see the kids again for the replay. We go again.