A much-changed Liverpool side continued their progress in another cup competition, reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time under Jurgen Klopp.
Liverpool 2-1 Norwich
FA Cup Fifth Round, Anfield
March 2, 2022
Goals: Minamino 27′, 39′; Rupp 76
Sunday’s absentees get their chance
The two outfield players who missed out on the squad altogether at Sunday’s League Cup final were put straight into the starting XI.
It meant Curtis Jones and Joe Gomez were able to maintain some degree of match sharpness and togetherness with the team.
Four other players who played no part in the final though were on the bench — Alisson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Takumi Minamino, and Kostas Tsimikas — also started.
All the fresh faces played well, which will be good for their confidence and that of the group going forward his season.
You’d imagine a 35-year-old third-choice goalkeeper Adrian has accepted his role in the squad and looked in good spirits during the warm-up as he made the bench here alongside Sunday’s star, Kelleher.
The goals were Minamino’s sixth and seventh in six starts in the domestic cup competitions this season.
He played an important part in Liverpool’s run to the League Cup final, scoring four goals and adding one assist in the first three rounds.
He didn’t start the final itself, but will now get the chance to make a great contribution for his team in the FA Cup – and hopefully get to play at Wembley eventually.
He scored against Cardiff in the previous round, and added two more to his tally here in a Man of the Match performance, with Klopp saying post-match that it was “the best he’s played for us.” The second was especially memorable and put the tie to bed before half-time.
It shows the importance of having such a player in the squad who may not be in the best XI, but can still contribute to potential success in the many competitions a world-class club will remain involved in.
Quadruple still on…
Just as happened to Man City over the years, the longer a dominant team who have just won the League Cup remains in all other competitions there will be talk of a quadruple.
The chances of a team such as an achievement are slim, and Man City haven’t managed it due to their failure to win the Champions League.
But that it’s even being suggested for Liverpool now shows they might finally have the strength in depth required to challenge in all competitions.
Klopp may get fed up with being asked about it, just as Pep Guardiola did, but the boss has not hidden the fact he wants this team to convert their good play into more trophies. They’ve already made a good start.
From Curtis Jones being taken off injured at halftime, to the departure of Jordan Henderson during the second half, the first couple of subs affected Liverpool’s rhythm.
It was already a much-changed team, and then when it was shuffled again it toned down the performance somewhat.
Harvey Elliott, on for Jones, played well in flashes and set up a good chance for Diogo Jota; While Tyler Morton, who replaced Henderson, eventually settled into the game as it drew to a close — one pass out to Luis Diaz was particularly good.
But the changes seemed to remove any chance of Liverpool adding a third despite that chance for Jota, and even saw Norwich bag an equaliser. Only when Diaz entered later on was more energy and desire added in attack.
On to the next one
A number of the Premier League Lads were given a night off for this game as the squad players played their part.
Mohamed Salah, Fabinho, Naby Keita, Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold were all given a complete rest, and will no doubt start against West Ham on Saturday.
It’s one big game after another now for the Reds as each game in the league feels like a must-win if Man City are to be caught.
The League Cup final appearance meant Liverpool are once again playing catch-up in terms of games as well as points behind the league leaders, and have a game in hand.
As the cliche goes, each game now feels like a cup final. This time next week we should also be talking about a Champions League quarter-final.