Liverpool beat Preston North End 2-0 on Wednesday evening at Deepdale. It puts the Reds into the EFL Cup Quarter Finals.
Some heavy rotation with the lineup here but we all saw that coming. We didn’t expect certain players, however.
Harvey Blair was a shock on the wing as it looked as though Mateusz Musialowski would be the debutant. Instead, neither the Pole nor James Balagizi even made the bench.
Jurgen Klopp also opted for both Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield. That’s perhaps a suggestion that Naby Keita will be fit for the weekend.
Nat Phillips got a game! The defender didn’t start this one but came on for Joel Matip at half-time. It’s his official season debut, though he did play a competitive game with the Under 21s in the Papa John’s Trophy.
It’s great to see Phillips on the pitch for the senior side. We were worried he was finished with the Reds, given he is a clear fifth-choice at the back.
While he’s unlikely to unseat Virgil van Dijk anytime soon, he did get an opportunity to impress. Let’s see if that earns Phillips more time.
Liverpool got the job done here but they weren’t exactly at their creative best. Preston, who also rotated heavily, kept the Reds at bay for most of the game.
It wasn’t until late on that Neco Williams, of all people, managed to craft a genuine chance for Liverpool. It doesn’t reflect particularly well on Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino.
Though, both did score in the end. They were point-blank finishes – Origi’s was a bit special, mind – with Williams doing to dirty work for each.
We’re not sure any of the forwards showed any of the creativity required to get into Premier League lineups, unfortunately.
Both Tyler Morton and Harvey Blair started this one, then. So how did they do?
We thought Morton was pretty impressive as a holding midfielder. His passing was very tidy as Liverpool dominated possession. He also helped create the first goal with a fantastic long-ball for Neco Williams.
Blair struggled, though. He didn’t quite look ready for senior-level – certainly not like Kaide Gordon in the previous round. He’s clearly talented but we’ll have to wait a bit longer before judging him.
Can Liverpool win the cup?
On this performance, it seems unlikely that Liverpool go all the way, even after a 2-0 win over Preston. The second string isn’t quite inventive enough to break down sides willing to defend against them.
But it really depends on how Liverpool view it. With Manchester City out, there’s a real chance to win this competition.
Will that mean a stronger XI in the next round? We wouldn’t bet on it but the EFL Cup is there for winning – if Liverpool want it.