Liverpool

Liverpool should think twice about January transfers after uninspiring FA Cup win

Krishan Davis
Klopp fielded a mixture of youth and experience against the Shrews
Klopp fielded a mixture of youth and experience against the Shrews / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages
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Liverpool have been conspicuous in their absence from the gossip columns in recent weeks.

While they have been consistently linked with the likes of Raphinha, Ismaila Sarr and (*sighs*) Kylian Mbappé for weeks, months and even years now, there has been no fresh, tangible reports in the build-up to January or since the window creaked open.

That is despite a Covid-19 breakout, injuries and key players Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Naby Keita all departing to represent their countries at Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon as the Reds attempt to maintain a title challenge.

Manager Jürgen Klopp has previously shown a willingness to lean on his youth ranks when first-team players need a rest or he's short of options, and that's what he decided to do when Liverpool welcomed League One Shrewsbury Town in the third round of the FA Cup on Sunday afternoon.

It was a team combining both youth and experience, with Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson and Fabinho starting alongside the likes of Tyler Morton, Kaide Gordon and Max Woltman. Trent Alexander-Arnold was missing having tested positive for Covid-19 following the draw with Chelsea on 2 January.

Although they eventually ran out 4-1 winners, the scoreline did not tell the whole story by any stretch of the imagination.

It was down Alexander-Arnold's flank that the Reds were horribly exposed twice in two minutes as the Shrews took a shock lead. Winger Nathaneal Ogbeta delivered one wicked cross which his teammates failed to capitalise on, then a minute later was again afforded the space to put in another by stand-in right-back Conor Bradley.

Striker Daniel Udoh was in the middle to provide an emphatic finish, ghosting in behind the sleeping Ibrahima Konate.

Bradley did make amends with a fine cross for Gordon to equalise, but Liverpool required a penalty to take the lead through Fabinho, who was often forced to carry his side throughout. Roberto Firmino's cheeky back-heel on his return from injury and Fabinho's second saw a late Brazilian salvo put an undeserved sheen on the scoreline.

While the goals did eventually come, the home side lacked creativity throughout the second half especially and were largely kept at bay by their third-tier opponents. Gordon and Morton were solid, but performances from other youngsters like Bradley at right-back demonstrate that Liverpool should try to strengthen their depth this month.

Those more established back-up players who will be expecting to play a more substantial role in the absence of others also flattered to deceive; Curtis Jones failed to grab the match by the scruff of the neck in an unfamiliar left-wing role, while Takumi Minamino barely did anything having come on as a half-time substitute.

While the rumour mill suggests nothing is forthcoming, this is a result that should serve as a wake-up call in a month where Liverpool must survive without some of their best players and maintain a title challenge. If they don't act now to tweak the squad and perhaps add some decent rotation options, it could prove costly.

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