It’s reasonably fair to say that we could have done without this match. Given that we’ve come off the back of an exhaustive game against Manchester United at Old Trafford and we’re welcome Swansea City to Anfield at the weekend, neither Jürgen Klopp nor his players wanted to be wasting much energy on a game nearly three hundred miles from home.
Gloucester Services. A thing of beauty. Halfway to Home Park. #LFC pic.twitter.com/fltORfwGSS
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) 18 January 2017
Such is the nature of cup football, however, the choice was not ours to make. Plymouth Argyle put eleven men behind the ball in the original game with the hope of doing nothing other than earning themselves a replay. They succeeded, keeping a clean sheet and failing to score, though scoring would have involved them venturing out of their own box. So would the replay prove to be any more exciting?
Klopp Got The Team Right – Just
I want to make something absolutely clear – I do not care about the cups. I understand that silverware is a good thing and that the old cliché of “Liverpool Football Club exists to win trophies” has been gospel for years for a reason, but there’s only one trophy I want to see arriving at Anfield this season. You won’t be surprised to learn that that trophy is the Premier League title and if we need to sacrifice the FA Cup to give ourselves the best possible chance of winning that then so be it.
19: Coutinho whips in the corner, and finds his fellow countryman 🇧🇷 who finds the net with a bullet header!
[0-1] #PLYLIV pic.twitter.com/9Wz0ggCxsW
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) 18 January 2017
That was why I was pleased to see so many youngsters in the starting line-up and mildly wary to see the big names of Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho having made the journey. I know it made sense to get some minutes in the Brazilian’s legs after he’s been out for so long, but even the slightest knock would have seen me threatening to set fire to things. He’s far too important a player for our league campaign to be risking him missing another game because of the FA Cup.
In the end he made it through an hour unscathed and played some lovely football in difficult circumstances. It was his corner that led to the goal and that’s not to be under-stated after the Reds had eighteen corners in the original game and failed to threaten Luke McCormick’s goal once. If the old fanzine ‘Another Wasted Corner’ was still going nowadays they’d have had a field day with the first match and been amazed to see Lucas score his first goal in nearly seven years.
Liverpool have scored from a corner. I repeat: Liverpool have scored from a corner *faints*
— Sachin Nakrani (@SachinNakrani) 18 January 2017
As for the youngsters, they’ve done themselves proud. The goal may have been made by one senior Brazilian in the squad and scored by another one, but it was the younger players who caught the eye. Trent Alexander-Arnold carried on where he left off against Manchester United, causing trouble down the right and defending well. Joe Gomez got booked reasonably early but wasn’t phased, dealing with Plymouth’s strong centre-forward with aplomb.
Sturridge And Origi Need To Improve
Much like in the first game, it was the older players who disappointed the most. Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge have been given plenty of opportunities to impress Jürgen Klopp of late and neither of them are doing enough to cause the manager to be pulling his hair out. Origi held the ball up reasonably well for some of the game at Old Trafford but he was supposed to be an out ball and kept getting disposed far too easily. Tonight he did nothing of note and his penalty miss was, frankly, shameful for a Premier League level striker.
That about sums your night up Divy lad. What an awful pen
— Stephen Evans (@StephenEvans75) 18 January 2017
Daniel Sturridge, meanwhile, had another ineffective game and has failed to ask questions of his manager once again. He should have had a penalty but that isn’t enough to put him ahead of Roberto Firmino in Klopp’s thoughts for the first XI. His work off the ball shouldn’t be ignore and he might well point to the fact that he was playing with the kids and they didn’t find him when he was in space time and again, but when he did get the ball he didn’t do anything with it.
The England striker will feel he’s at something of a crossroads in his career now. He needs to play regularly in order to get back to full-speed, but he’s not playing anywhere near well enough to regularly feature in our starting line-up. There’s also the continuing question marks around his fitness. He hasn’t been out for a length of time for a year or so, but he still seems to threaten to break down far too often. Can the manager count on him to be there when it matters? He wasn’t there at Home Park when younger players were looking to him to see what he could produce.
Sturridge has been terrible tonight. Huge fan, but doing his future chances no good whatsoever.
— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) 18 January 2017
Origi has youth on his side and the main thing he’s lacking that’s stopping him from being a world class player is arrogance. He should have owned the pitch last night, saying to the Plymouth players, ‘You’re three divisions below me, I will own you’. Instead he looked lightweight and out of place. Sturridge has all of the skills and all of the arrogance but didn’t make use of any of it at Home Park. He should have been a standout player and a shining light but instead he merely reinforced the belief in some quarters that he’s lost what made him so good. I don’t think we should sell him, but sometimes it doesn’t matter how good you are if you don’t fit the manager’s system.
We’re Lucky To Have Such Good Fans
It’s something of a common complaint nowadays that the Anfield crowd is a bit of a letdown. It is not unusual to hear opposition fans sing ‘Is this a library?’ or ‘Shall we sing a song for you?’ in the way that bores often do. The reality is that they’re responding to the quiet nature of the crowd in most run-of-the-mill home games, with the ‘prawn sandwich brigade’ failing to match the non-hospitality goers for volume and passion and even the regulars acting like they’re watching it all on TV rather than a physical part of the experience.
Lovely tribute from Liverpool fans for Plymouth fan Daniel May who sadly passed away last week. RIP. pic.twitter.com/QGneePmaEc
— Football Away Days (@FBAwayDays) 18 January 2017
It’s easy to take our fans for granted, therefore, and not give them the credit they deserve. The gesture of a section of the fanbase to collect money and make a banner in memory of a Plymouth supporter named Daniel May, who passed away during the game last week, was a class act. I’m not for one second saying no other supporters would have done such a thing, but it was a lovely gesture that deserves plenty of credit and reminded us that Reds are a top-notch bunch when it comes down to it.
The Plymouth fans will get plaudits for making loads of noise last night, but I actually think they were pretty terrible at times. It’s all well and good singing songs, but the nature of those songs needs a bit of thought. It was also monumentally stupid of them to boo the singing of You’ll Never Walk Alone that took place after the parading of the banner in Daniel’s honour. After all, Daniel’s dad Kevin said after the Anfield match, “…They started singing You’ll Never Walk Alone.
“I know it is Liverpool’s anthem and that they sing it to their players but it just lifted me tremendously. It just felt like they were singing it to me and it was incredibly special to me”.
“Only sing when you’re winning” followed immediately by “1-0 and you still don’t sing”. Other football crowds do my head in.
— Paul Cope (@paul7cope) 18 January 2017
The songbook from the Plymouth fans was one of cliché for the entire night. At one point they even sang the ‘Steven Gerrard / Demba Ba’ song, which is insane. The only club’s fans that can actually sing that with any meaning is Manchester City’s as they won the league because of the former Liverpool captain’s slip. Maybe Chelsea fans can just about get away with it considering they left Anfield with all three points as a result, but Plymouth fans? Do me a favour. Steven Gerrard has won more in the last ten years of his career than Plymouth has as a club.
I’m fairly certain at one point I heard them singing ‘Sign On’, as if the economic plight of the country under a Conservative government that’s happy to see the poor crushed into the ground for the benefit of the rich is a good laugh that we should all get behind. Plymouth aren’t the only fans to sing that sort of nonsense, of course. Manchester United fans do it every single week regardless of who they’re playing. Yet it’s the sort of thing that the press turn a blind eye to. They made noise for ninety minutes ergo they’re a good crowd that deserves plaudits.
Argyle fans that were booing You’ll Never Walk Alone should be criticised for that, it was meant to be a tribute to Daniel May.
— james (@KopiteJames) 19 January 2017
Personally I’m far more interested in giving plaudits to my fellow Liverpool fans who are a class act the vast majority of the time. There will always be some bad apples in every supporter base but I’m proud of the gestures like last night’s banner that Reds make on a regular basis. If we went down the road of shouting “You’re shit, AAARRRGGHHH” at every goal kick from the opposition we’d make more noise more often, but we’d lose a huge part of our identity as a result.
Rest in peace, Daniel. Hopefully your family will find some comfort in the coming weeks, months and years. You’ll Never Walk Alone.