LIVERPOOL VS SHREWSBURY: PREVIEW
Liverpool turn their attentions to the FA Cup this Sunday when they welcome League one side Shrewsbury Town to Anfield. The buildup to the game has been shrouded in uncertainty due to a Covid outbreak throughout the club.
Alisson Becker, Joel Matip, Roberto Firmino as well as manager Jürgen Klopp missed the trip to Stamford Bridge due to suspected positive Covid test results. Since then, assistant manager Pep Ljinders has also been confirmed to have tested positive.
A spate of positive test results amongst the playing and coaching staff led to the temporary closure of the club’s AXA Training Ground after consultation with the health authorities. This saw the club officially apply for postponement of the first leg of their semi final League Cup clash against Arsenal.
That request was granted and that game has now been rescheduled for the 20th of January. The FA have refused to postpone any FA Cup game though and clubs are being forced to field Academy youngsters where necessary. It’s currently unclear just what squad Liverpool have available for this clash.
The AXA Training Ground was reopened today and first team coach Peter Krawietz took charge of training and preparations for the game on Sunday. Alisson, Matip, Firmino and indeed Jürgen Klopp could be available as their isolation period ends days before the game.
Beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess which players will be involved. There were reports earlier in the week of the club having less than ten first team players available due to a combination of Covid, injury and AFCON.
Liverpool and Shrewsbury met in the 4th Round of this competition two seasons ago. Shrewsbury completed a comeback to hold Liverpool to a 2-2 draw and force a replay at Anfield. The replay fell in the inaugural winter break for the Premier League and Jürgen Klopp decided to stay away.
Instead, current Blackpool manager and former U23 coach Neil Critchley took charge of the youngest starting XI in Liverpool’s history with an average age of 19 years and 102 days. The young Reds were captained by Curtis Jones who became the youngest captain in the club’s history.
The young Reds battled to an impressive 1-0 win after Shrewsbury defender Williams scored an own goal in the 75th minute. This is how the Reds lined up: Kelleher, Neco, Hoever, Van den Berg, Lewis, Chirivella, Cain, Clarkson, Elliott, Millar, Jones.
Half of that side are no longer at the club but we could well see Kelleher, Neco, Clarkson and Jones start again here. With the Reds quietly going four games without a win in regular time, they will want to secure victory here and passage to the 4th Round.
Shrewsbury come to Anfield in good form though. They are unbeaten in their last four, winning three. That is the longest unbeaten run they’ve managed to put together this season and are coming off the back of a 1-0 home win over Sheffield Wednesday. They currently lie 14th in League One.
The league title seems long gone and a club with the quality Liverpool possess can’t be going trophy-less in consecutive seasons. The Cup competitions offer a good opportunity for silverware for Jürgen Klopp, especially with the semi final clash against Arsenal to come next week.
As stated already, there’s a whole lot of uncertainty regarding the players available for this fixture. The picture will be much clearer after the pre-match press conference tomorrow.
The youngster is in training and has granted an interview expressing his excitement at the getting the chance to play on Sunday. He’s already made seven appearances in what is his breakthrough season at his boyhood club. If it’s a completely youthful side then there’ll be a lot of responsibility on his young shoulders.