With Liverpool performing well in virtually every competition it is in – from the Premier League to the Champions League to the Club World Cup – nobody was surprised to see manager Jurgen Klopp rest his stars and give some young players a run in a third round FA Cup match against crosstown rival Everton.
Winning that match was another matter entirely.
Liverpool shocked Everton by winning 1-0 at Anfield on Sunday, with 18-year-old Curtis Jones scoring the lone goal on a brilliant strike in the 71st minute.
Merseyside Derby Struggles Continue for Everton
The Merseyside Derby represents a long-standing rivalry between local rivals whose stadiums sit on opposites sides of Stanley Park in northwest England. Despite being the closet thing to a home game for each team, Everton hasn’t won a game at Liverpool’s Anfield pitch since 1999.
That streak was supposed to end on Sunday. Liverpool still fielded a reasonably competitive lineup, but it featured nine changes from the squad that defeated Sheffield United 2-0 in an EPL match on Thursday.
The Reds played without Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk, Roberto Firmino, or Alisson in the lineup. Instead, supporters rooted for reserves and teenagers like Jones, Neco Williams, and Harvey Elliott. James Milner only lasted a few minutes before picking up an injury, removing even more star power from Liverpool’s side of the pitch.
FA Cup Title Odds
- Manchester City (+170)
- Liverpool (+340)
- Chelsea (+850)
- Leicester City (+1000)
- Tottenham (+1200)
- Arsenal (+1500)
- Manchester United (+1500)
Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook
Sensing an opportunity, Everton looked to advance to the fourth round by running out its first-string unit. Despite generating chances throughout the first half, Everton couldn’t get on the board, setting up the potential for an upset. When Jones blasted a shot from the edge of the box past Jordan Pickford, it seemed almost inevitable that Liverpool would once again get the best of their city rivals.
“It’s been frustrating at times being on the bench and then getting a taste on the pitch, and then being back on the bench,” Jones told BBC Sport. “I’ve been basically begging to come on, but hopefully, I’ve topped it off with a good goal. I can’t sum up my emotions.”
Klopp, Liverpool Can Do No Wrong
Klopp has put together one of the deepest rosters in professional soccer, and results like Sunday’s are the fruits of that effort. That’s something that goalkeeper Adrian – playing in place of Alisson on Sunday – praised his manager for, even before the match.
“I would say he’s the best right now,” Adrian told reporters. “Everyone is behind him, we are like a rock, and it’s difficult to break a rock. The fans, the people around us, everyone is a family because we take care of each other.”
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti, on the other hand, said he would immediately question his players after what was an embarrassing loss.
“I am not used to speaking to the players after the game, but I am going to speak to them about this,” Ancelotti told reporters. “The lineup of Liverpool didn’t affect our idea. It was to play a good game. We knew Liverpool would put fresh players in, and the intensity could be high.”
Liverpool is expected to easily cap off an EPL title this year, and are in the running as a favorite in other competitions. FanDuel Sportsbook lists the Reds as a +340 pick to win the FA Cup and a +430 choice to defend its Champions League title – making them second only to Manchester City in both cases. Liverpool has a nearly unassailable 13-point lead in the Premier League, making them -6000 favorites to lift the trophy over City (+1900) and Leicester (+11000).