Shrewsbury Town manager Sam Ricketts admits he looked to exploit Liverpool midfielder Pedro Chirivella – whom he deemed as a weak link during his team’s FA Cup fourth-round stalemate with the European champions.
Jurgen Klopp’s side surrendered a two-goal lead to the League One outfit forcing a replay which will take place during the Premier League’s inaugural winter break.
According to the Times, Chirivella, 22, emerged as a potential target to exploit the Premier League champions-elect with the Spaniard’s lack of pace a motive for Shrewsbury to get behind Liverpool lines.
The former Valencia academy prospect assisted the opening goal for Curtis Jones following an exquisite pass that completely carved open Shrewsbury’s defence and the midfielder remained a bright light in an otherwise dim performance from Klopp’s runaway league leaders.
Chirivella made his fifth appearance for the season for Liverpool at Meadow Park and gave an assured display despite being identified as a flawed player by Shrewsbury manager Rickets.
Speaking in regards to Chirivella, he said: “He takes too many touches all the time. He’s quite slow so that is someone we can really pinpoint and go for a little bit.
“The full-backs like to go so if at any point we can turn the ball over here then there’s massive space in behind. We need that one-v-one.”
What RTK has to say
Any notions of the Spanish midfielder being a weak link for Liverpool were quickly extinguished in Shropshire at the weekend.
Chirivella was the standout player in the first half for the Reds following his intelligent usage of the ball and his vision to exploit gaps in the Shrewsbury defence.
The assist for Jones’ goal hasn’t got the plaudits it deserves. The vision itself to pick the pass was outstanding but the execution itself was perfect.
Klopp holds Chirivella in high esteem following a stop-start opening to his Anfield career. He is yet to start a league match for the Reds since 2016 but was chosen by the manager to captain the club in Liverpool’s Carabao Cup quarter-final clash with Aston Villa.
The Reds ultimately saw the tie get away from them following a wretched error-strewn second-half performance where Liverpool’s senior players failed to show up in an XI that was littered with young talent.
The likes of Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip and Fabinho all looked worryingly rusty after returning from respected injuries. If it wasn’t for the innovation and perseverance of Liverpool’s young guns – including Chirivella – this FA Cup tie even threatened to get away from Klopp’s world champions.