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Double Danns delight for mentality giants – 5 talking points from Liverpool 3-0 Southampton

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They’ve only gone and done it again. Liverpool’s young players got them through in another cup competition with a remarkable performance against Southampton.

Liverpool 3-0 Southampton

FA Cup Fifth Round, Anfield
February 28, 2024

Goals: Koumas 44′, Danns 73′, 88′


Youth wins the day…again

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 28, 2024: Liverpool's Jayden Danns celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Cup 5th Round match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Another mixture of U21s, U18s, and first-teamers, another unbelievable win.

Lewis Koumas took a little while to settle into the pace of the game, but once he did he had the confidence to get the shot off which opened the scoring for Liverpool.

As was the case in the Carabao Cup final, these young players visibly grew into the game as the minutes passed.

It was Bobby Clark‘s effort that led to the corner from which Virgil van Dijk scored on Sunday, and against Southampton goals from Koumas and Jayden Danns helped Liverpool progress to the quarter-finals of another cup competition.

Koumas played in Cody Gakpo shortly after his goal, too, for a chance the Dutchman should have done better with. If Harvey Elliott had gambled and made a run to the far post, he might have had a tap-in.

Enter Danns, replacing Koumas just after the hour mark, lifting a shot over Joe Lumley like a seasoned international from Elliott’s nice pass, to make it two and secure the win.

Then, enter Trey Nyoni, just 16-year- old and wearing the No. 98 shirt, to help Liverpool see the game out as Danns added another for good measure.

Unbelievable stuff.

 

The shape remains the same

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 21, 2024: Liverpool's Joe Gomez during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Luton Town FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Though many of the names may be unfamiliar, the Liverpool formation was one most often seen during Klopp’s tenure.

Numerous academy players filled the various roles, but perhaps the most unusual was to see Joe Gomez playing the deep-lying midfield role.

Klopp could have used Bradley on the right wing, as was the case for a lot of the Carabao Cup final, McConnell deeper in midfield and Gomez at right-back, but chose to make the big positional change for Gomez.

Though Gomez did sometimes drop between the centre-backs in possession, this was not a back three, and the versatile defender was now doing a job in the No. 6 role.

Still no goal, amid the constant cries from the stands to “shoot,” but another string to his bow as he improved in the role as the game went on.

 

Strength and football knowledge in depth

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 28, 2024: Liverpool players form a pre-match huddle before the FA Cup 5th Round match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool winning these games shouldn’t be underestimated.

To emerge with victories given the number of changes, positional switches, young players and unfamiliar partnerships, is a massive achievement.

Injuries have forced Klopp’s hand, he was without 13 first-team players here, but if it were a choice this would be rotation of the rotation players.

It’s a testament to the mentality throughout the club and the wide understanding of what Klopp wants from his players once they arrive in the first team.

This is why these U21 players have been able to hit the ground running in recent games, and in important, must-win games at that.

And as Klopp said in his programme notes, the first teamers around the dressing room and in the team help make it a perfect environment in which these players can shine.

 

Any first-teamers vs. Forest?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 28, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Cup 5th Round match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

At this moment in time, “first teamer” is difficult to define, but some more familiar senior faces could be back in action.

It will be nice for them to provide some competition for these teenagers.

There are only two full days’ break for the players between now and the next game against Forest.

Klopp will hope that one, two or three of Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez, Wataru Endo and Dominik Szoboszlai are back in contention.

He also has a few who played against Southampton to choose from such as Gakpo, Gomez, Tsimikas and Elliott, while Van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate played 45 minutes each so could start together against Forest.

Caoimhin Kelleher was excellent again, too, and looks to be growing more assured with more game time.

Even the younger players were starting to look leggy, though, and it would be a big ask, even for someone like Conor Bradley, to play so many high-intensity games back-to-back in such a short space of time.

There should be some returning players to help Klopp rotate this highly rotatable team.

 

Ball assistants next up to parade the cup

London, England, 27th February 2022. Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool celebrates with the trophy during the Carabao Cup match at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture credit should read: Paul Terry / Sportimage Credit: Sportimage/Alamy Live News

It was another nice touch from the club that looks to involve everyone.

Shortly before kick-off at each game the ball boys and girls take their places around the edge of the pitch and this time they emerged with the Carabao Cup trophy.

They each took turns to lift the trophy in front of the fans before taking their positions for the game.

A couple of them did their best Jordan Henderson trophy lift impressions, much to the delight of the fans.

Maybe one or two of these will be in one of the Liverpool first team soon, and the way things are going with the club valuing its effective youth pathway, it could be sooner rather than later!