The Reds survived a banana skin at Anfield as they came from behind to dump out the League One side and book their place in the fourth round of the world’s oldest cup competition
Liverpool had to come from behind to book their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup against Shrewsbury.
The League One side put up a good fight and took the lead at Anfield but they couldn’t quite hold on for a famous upset.
Daniel Udoh scored the opener in front of the travelling Shrews’ fans who must have been dreaming of an almighty shock.
But Jurgen Klopp’s side fired back, with 17-year-old Kaide Gordon restoring parity before Fabinho’s penalty put the hosts 2-1 up before the break.
Substitute Roberto Firmino scored a third goal with a backheeled finish in the second half before Fabinho added gloss with his second.
Here are five talking points to emerge from the match.
Selection almost backfires
Many fans and journalists would have struggled to put together a probable Liverpool starting XI for this game.
The club’s ongoing Covid concerns, combined with injuries and the usual rotation policy that comes into play for cup competitions meant it was anyone’s guess as to what the hosts’ team would look like when the teamsheets landed at 1pm.
The final result was perhaps more experimental than many assumed.
Yes there was stalwarts such as Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson and Fabinho. But there were a clutch of youngsters given the nod, especially in forward areas.
When Shrewsbury took a 27th minute lead there might have been some Kop fans worried that too many alterations had been made.
Luckily for them, the hosts turned it around but they were made to work harder for the win than they would have liked.
Setting FA Cup record straight
It’s a decade since Liverpool last reached the final of the world’s oldest cup competition.
And you have to go back to 2006 for the last time they lifted it.
In fact, one of the few criticisms of Jurgen Klopp’s hugely successful reign on Merseryside has been their spluttering form in this competition under his stewardship.
The best they have managed under the German was the fifth round, two years ago.
So they will have been happy to get the job done here against what proved to be tricky opponents. And the youngsters employed to navigate today’s test will be hoping another chance awaits them in the next round – whoever that may be against.
Mixed day for Reds’ youngsters
Elijah Dixon-Bonner and Max Woltman were handed full debuts whilst Gordon, Tyler Morton and Connor Bradley also started.
The oldest of that quintet is 19 and it represented half a team full of teenagers.
Dixon-Bonner enjoyed a solid first half and was denied a maiden senior goal by a superb save from Marko Marosi just after the restart.
As for Woltman he hardly had a sniff and it was no real surprise when he was hooked at half-time.
Gordon enjoyed a profitable afternoon thanks to his equaliser but overall it was a tougher day at the office than many of these youngsters perhaps anticipated.
Nevertheless, the experience of playing in front of a full house at Anfield – for the first time for some of these players – will be invaluable.
Covid issues continue
The past week has seen plenty said about the EFL Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Arsenal being called off due to spiralling Covid cases.
It has affected both coaching staff and players and it shows little sign of abating.
Since last month, Thiago Alcantara, Joel Matip, Roberto Firmino, Alisson Becker, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Curtis Jones have all been confirmed as positives.
And prior to today’s game another player was revealed to have been unavailable due to testing positive, with Trent Alexander-Arnold the latest to be forced into isolation.
Liverpool have said he will “return to training in the coming days” but it is unclear whether he will be back in time for Thursday’s EFL Cup semi-final first leg with Arsenal.
They could certainly do with him, given the plethora of players missing at present.
Plenty of positives for Shrews
Shrewsbury came here looking to repeat their FA Cup antics against the same opponents from two years ago.
Back in 2020 the Shrews staged a fine comeback to force an Anfield replay in the fourth round. And despite being edged out 1-0 in the rematch, they gave a good account of themselves over the course of two, tight matches.
Today was no different. Steve Cotterill’s side were in good form in League One heading into this and when Udoh fired them in front the 6,000 travelling fans were in dreamland.
But the dream didn’t last long. Ultimately, Liverpool’s quality told and they ensured their name wouldn’t be added to the list of teams on the end of a shock on third round weekend.
But the performance from the visitors should give them plenty of belief heading into the second half of the campaign.