LIVERPOOL 3-0 EXETER CITY
Liverpool continue in the FA Cup after an impressive show of football which included a clean sheet and three goals scored for the Premier League side.
Jürgen Klopp would have the youngsters from the Academy out on the field from the start of the game again, just like the first time the two teams faced each other this year. It was rumoured that recently returned from loan Danny Ward would be the goalkeeper for this fixture, however when the team sheets were seen, it was clear that Simon Mignolet would be between the goalposts for Liverpool. The manager had placed his confidence in our “first choice” goalkeeper to face our opponents who had done enough to earn themselves this replay at Anfield, scoring twice against Liverpool when Adam Bogdan was given his chance to play against Exeter in the FA Cup.
One other notable player to be a part of the squad would be Jon Flanagan, who has not been playing for Liverpool in 18 months after serious injury and two major knee operations kept him out of our fixtures until now. Liverpool fans have clearly missed the local lad known as “the Scouse Cafu” and he was applauded by the entire home crowd at Anfield when he would come on to replace Connor Randall in the 51st minute. Welcome back, lad.
Liverpool had perhaps prepared for not letting this replay go the same way as the previous encounter with Exeter had gone. We dominated possession, won the ball any time the opposition made an attempt at making their way towards our penalty area and then counter attacked.
It was like watching a different team to the one that drew 2-2 in the city of Exeter. I credit the manager for his wise choice of goalkeeper (some managers see cup games as no big challenge and put anybody in goal, often not the first choice and more importantly most dependable goalkeeper). I also very much enjoyed watching our captain for this game, Jose Enrique. He hasn’t really gotten much match experience until Klopp arrived and started giving him a chance to prove himself to the new manager. He worked hard to defend against all attacks and was part of the defence that made sure no goals were conceded in this game.
Liverpool didn’t spend too much time before taking a lead. It was less than 10 minutes before the first goal was scored.
Liverpool had been attacking consistently and now it was going to pay off for us. Brad Smith would run down the left wing, play a 1-2 (a quick pass to Benteke and then collecting the ball back from Benteke) and then made the final important pass to Joe Allen, who was waiting in a dangerous position around the penalty spot. Allen would receive the ball and would accurately squeeze the ball between two Exeter defenders who were on the goal line and into the net. Liverpool 1-0 Exeter
Joe Allen wasn’t even substitute for the previous encounter with Exeter, but his most recent displays of excellent football and a goal which gained us a point against Arsenal may have impressed the new manager enough to keep him in the side and give him more opportunities to score again, which he has done. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t get used in our up and coming fixtures, especially the very next one.
So, by the tenth minute of play Liverpool were leading by a goal and we would keep the lead until half time. Exeter seemed to stop trying to attack because when they did, we generally dispossessed them in midfield and made a counter attack. So defending tightly to hopefully stop us from scoring again seemed to be their best choice of tactics.
After the break, Liverpool kept doing more of the same. By the 65th minute, Sheyi Ojo would replace only goalscorer in this fixture so far. Joe Allen left the pitch in a substitution that didn’t make a whole lot of sense at the time, many fans would have wanted to see Allen keep playing and possibly to score again. However Ojo would have quite an impact on the game and it would later on make Klopp’s decision to make this change quite wise, an excellent choice by the manager.
What kind of impact was made? Well, less than ten minutes after coming onto the pitch, Ojo became the second goalscorer of the game for Liverpool. Jordon Ibe had run towards the edge of the Exeter penalty area, then passed directly across to Ojo. All Ojo had to do once he had collected the pass was run a little to his left with the ball, making enough space to get his shot off, which was precisely placed into the top left corner of the net. Liverpool 2-0 Exeter.
Even though he didn’t score, Ibe worked incredibly hard and offiically impressed me most of all players until the moment he was substituted and I am naming him as Man Of The Match for this fixture.
About 5 minutes later, Jordon Ibe would be replaced by Pedro Chirivella. Ibe had assisted at least one goal in this game, but after the impact Klopp’s previous substitutions had made I wasn’t going to question Ibe’s being taken off. Two minutes later, there would be another goal.
Christian Benteke had the ball and was attacking very impressively towards the Exeter goal. He was dribbling past multiple defenders, running around them with the ball and making it look easy. All of a sudden as he neared the penalty area, he looked up and saw João Carlos Teixeira in a dangerous position. Benteke would quickly take the opportunity to assist Teixeira and the Portuguese midfielder would strike the ball with confidence, placing it past the Exeter goalkeeper into the net and scoring the third and final goal for Liverpool. It was great football from both Benteke and Teixeira. Liverpool 3-0 Exeter.
Liverpool will now continue to the fourth round of this competition and have been drawn against West Ham in the next FA Cup fixture for the club. So, Saturday 30th January at Anfield is the time and place for that game.
It was really a pleasure to watch Liverpool, live from the Centenary Stand at Anfield. It was exciting and fun and makes me want to see more cup games, at our home stadium. Want to see more of Anfield? I took some pictures just for you.
Whereas some fans don’t value any competition higher than the Premier League, I don’t mind attending “lesser” games in other competitions such as the League Cup, FA Cup, or Europa League. It’s good to see the less experienced players showing what they can do. Sheyi Ojo has only just returned from his loan spell at Wolverhampton and already he’s scoring goals. It’s an exciting progression for the club as many are given opportunities by Klopp that under a different manager, may not occur.
Brendan Rodgers was always very rigid and stubborn about the players he wished to use and would only on rare occasions utilise Academy players. He didn’t even like using players that our previous managers had signed, instead signing many players of his own to replace the squad members that were already part of the squad when he arrived. Pepe Reina would leave, Daniel Agger would leave. Even Steven Gerrard would leave. It was all part of Rodgers influence and decision making over who he would get to choose for his teams.
Klopp seems far less shortsighted and is more open-minded to experimentation with our already very skilled youngsters from the Academy. He certainly hasn’t rejected anyone for already being a part of a squad that he hadn’t signed himself. While he may make new signings for the club in the January transfer window, a feeling that he will keep on using our current squad members is still something which remains in our hearts.
Liverpool’s 2015-2016 fixture list isn’t done with yet and we’re due to play a Premier League game against Norwich soon.
I hope you enjoyed watching our FA Cup victory. Walk on with hope in your hearts, Anfield Family. You’ll Never Walk Alone.
written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s