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Monday 24 July 2017

Klopp has no regrets over his youth policy

Liverpool 0 Plymouth Argyle 0

Liverpool youngster Sheyi Ojo attempts to control the ball in the FA Cup clash at Anfield
Liverpool youngster Sheyi Ojo attempts to control the ball in the FA Cup clash at Anfield
Graham Carey of Plymouth Argyle shows appreciation to the fans after the final whistle
Liverpool's Roberto Firmino with Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp

Jurgen Klopp had no regrets about selecting a youthful side as Liverpool were held to a goalless draw by League Two Plymouth in the FA Cup third round at Anfield.

The Liverpool boss named the club's youngest-ever team for the home tie, even with the likes of Emre Can, Lucas Leiva and Alberto Moreno making the starting line-up, but despite dominating for the majority of the match, the Reds struggled to force Plymouth goalkeeper Luke McCormick into a meaningful save.

The German brought on internationals Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino as his side looked to break the deadlock but it came to no avail as the club from the fourth tier became only the third team in a year to prevent Liverpool from scoring at Anfield.

Klopp said: "It's not the result we wished obviously but it's not frustrating because that's football.

"We started well, we played football with direction and had movements but that's not a fine-tuned side so that means they lost their patience too early and tried to force it - this team could have played much better today. We go to Plymouth for the first time in my life, all good.

Calm

"The whole of Plymouth was in the 18-yard box! You need to stay calm, you need to stay patient in these situations - that is the biggest challenge in football against a deep defending side.

"As a manager you make a decision, you can criticise or whatever makes more sense for you, but all good."

A Reds team containing five academy graduates came up against a green wall as Argyle manager Derek Adams succeeded in making life as difficult as possible for the hosts.

The tactics were understandable for a side second in League Two coming to a club second in the Premier League and Plymouth now have a chance of causing an upset at Home Park.

A replay is something Klopp could have done without in a month which contains a two-legged EFL Cup semi-final against Southampton as well as a trip to Manchester United and the visit of league leaders Chelsea, but it was not entirely surprising considering the team he put out.

Liverpool's side had an average age of 21 years and 296 days - even taking into account the presence of captain Lucas Leiva, 30 today.

Lucas was making his 329th appearance for the Reds - the same number as all his other 10 team-mates combined - but Liverpool really needed the know-how in a more advanced position than central defence.

Alongside him was Joe Gomez, 19, playing his first match for 465 days and his first appearance under Klopp after a serious knee injury, and it proved a more than comfortable return.

Eighty per cent possession for Liverpool in the first half told its own story as Plymouth put at least nine outfield players behind the ball.

Sheyi Ojo, one of five teenagers in the home side, fluffed a close-range header from Emre Can's deflected free-kick while the quick feet of Ben Woodburn, the club's youngest ever goalscorer after his strike against Leeds in November's EFL Cup tie, created a couple of chances with McCormick saving one.

Divock Origi's attempts to out-muscle Gary Millar were judged unfair as the Belgium striker put the ball in the net and that was the closest Liverpool came in the first half.

A similar pattern continued in the second half - although Plymouth did manage a shot on target, Graham Carey's free-kick comfortably held by Loris Karius - with Ojo heading wide.

Within a minute of coming on just past the hour Sturridge rolled a shot narrowly wide and then proceeded to try to win the game single-handedly as, after almost picking out Ojo with a delicate chip, he headed over and fired into the side-netting.

Klopp sent on Firmino and Lallana, but the visitors held firm.

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