Liverpool

Curtis Jones makes another strong case to become Liverpool starter

Sean Walsh
Jones impressed in Liverpool's FA Cup win over Norwich
Jones impressed in Liverpool's FA Cup win over Norwich / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages
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An entirely unexpected late rally from their visitors aside, Liverpool's FA Cup win over Norwich City on Wednesday was a procession rather than a complication.

Jurgen Klopp opted to make ten changes to the side that beat Chelsea in Sunday's Carabao Cup final, with captain Jordan Henderson the only man keeping his place.

That Football Manager-style rotation doesn't always work and is often disruptive of a side's rhythm, but the Reds hardly missed a beat in a fairly routine victory.

Takumi Minamino grabbed a quick-fire brace to set Liverpool on their way into round six, and despite only playing one half before succumbing to a thigh problem, Curtis Jones made another good impression.

The red half of Merseyside have been keen to anoint Jones as their new midfield hero ever since he lashed home a famous winner against Everton in the third round of this competition in the 2019/20 season. In fact, he nearly scored an identical goal on Wednesday night, but this time his effort brushed the top of the crossbar.

Jones demanded the ball in midfield every time Liverpool were in possession the way that a middle-aged parent demands to speak to the store manager - he was relentless and had a little strop when he didn't get his way.

But Jones' enthusiasm never felt like over-enthusiasm, largely because whenever he had the ball at his feet you could see the magic in his boots. Deft touches, tricks and flicks and a sense of ingenuity, he was keen to play a slow-paced game at a much higher tempo, the sort of wildcard that Klopp adores.

Liverpool's midfield has become renowned for being steely and robust rather than one full of flair and creativity, particularly when Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are such unique weapons when joining attacks.

Nonetheless, every side needs to find a way to keep evolving, and with Jones and the similarly talented Harvey Elliott coming through the ranks, perhaps an injection of inventiveness in midfield is the evolution Klopp should pursue.

Thiago Alcantara has finally settled into English football but his injury and fitness woes remain a semi-constant, leaving at least one hole in midfield to fill alongside the industrious duo of Fabinho and Henderson.

Fans will have their fingers crossed that Jones too will not succumb to the same problems as Thiago and that this recent setback isn't serious, but whenever the 21-year-old pulls on that famous red shirt, he looks like he belongs. Klopp is one of the world's best judges of talent, and soon enough he'll reward Jones' quality with a regular starting place.

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