Newsnow Liverpool brings you the Latest Liverpool news today with analysis from Theo Squires after the Carabao Cup clash between Liverpool and Leicester City.
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Doak Delivers Again
“If we could have used Ben Doak a little more often, give him the ball a little more, then we could have had more times on the touch line and pass the ball inside more often.”
Against the Austrians, the Scotland Under-21s international had the fewest touches of Liverpool’s starting XI. However, he displayed glimpses of his talent, albeit with limited impact. The story took a different turn against Leicester City.
It was in the League Cup third round last year, facing an East Midlands side, that the teenager made his first-team debut. Now, 10 months later, he earned his inaugural Anfield start, once again showcasing why he continues to captivate so many.
Less than a week after his start against LASK, it became evident that Liverpool had heeded Klopp’s words. Doak became significantly more involved against Leicester as his teammates actively sought to involve him in the game. He stuck to his strengths, tormenting James Justin by relentlessly taking on the full-back. His movement even led to an early penalty appeal that went unanswered.
A goalscorer against Leicester in pre-season, the 17-year-old was incredibly unlucky not to notch his first senior goal against the Foxes this time around. From consecutive corners, Doak was thwarted first by goalkeeper Jakub Stolarczyk from close range, and then by the underside of the crossbar.
Meanwhile, in the second half, he delivered the kind of final ball that had occasionally been lacking at senior level. He combined effectively with Harvey Elliott, notably picking out the midfielder in the box with a crafty pass, leading to Gakpo hitting the crossbar with a header. He came close to creating a goal himself with an artful cross.
Doak was substituted after 65 minutes, and it was his replacement, Szoboszlai, who scored Liverpool’s lead on the night. However, with more senior opportunities on the horizon for Doak this season, his latest promising performance has left the Reds eagerly anticipating more.
Quality Quansah Answers Transfer Question
Liverpool had ambitious plans for a midfield overhaul this summer, but their quest for a new left-sided center-back was also high on the agenda. Ideally, they were in search of a young talent for this role.
However, their pursuit faced a setback as they couldn’t secure their preferred choice, Levi Colwill. Colwill’s decision to commit to a new long-term contract with Chelsea left Liverpool disappointed, forcing them to go back to the drawing board. As a result, their search for defensive reinforcement was put on hold.
This decision was not without risks. Liverpool had experienced issues with the reliability of key defenders like Ibrahima Konate, Joel Matip, and Joe Gomez, who were prone to injuries. Klopp had already briefly lost the services of Konate that season, and with Virgil van Dijk serving a two-game suspension as well, Liverpool’s decision to forgo signing a new center-back appeared hasty.
Nevertheless, as one door closed, another opened. While Liverpool couldn’t secure a new defender during the summer, this setback created an opportunity for 20-year-old Jarell Quansah. He seized this opportunity with both hands.
Quansah made a strong impression as a substitute against Newcastle United and Aston Villa, and he impressed from the start in a game against Wolves. However, it was his full debut at Anfield against Leicester that truly stood out, showcasing a level of maturity beyond his years.
He dominated the game statistically, recording 100 touches, 78 passes with a 92% pass accuracy, and three interceptions. While Leicester rarely threatened Liverpool’s goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, Quansah consistently halted their attempts to break forward.
In addition to his defensive prowess, Quansah displayed attacking flair. He was denied a goal by a superb low save from Stolarczyk in the first half, but he redeemed himself by setting up Jota late in the match to secure victory for Liverpool. His involvement in the goal demonstrated his composure and playmaking ability.
Liverpool’s need for a new center-back within the next year remains, especially with Joel Matip’s contract expiring next summer and Virgil van Dijk aging at 32. However, Jarell Quansah’s emergence has certainly softened the blow of not securing a new player during the summer transfer window.
Regardless of Liverpool’s future defensive targets, it’s evident that this English youth international has become an integral part of the club’s long-term plans.
Gakpo Grabs Chance But Diogo Jota Doesn’t
Both Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz have made the most of their opportunities this season, even when coming off the bench. Their recent performances have led to Cody Gakpo and Diogo Jota being relegated to substitute roles.
This change in roles gave Gakpo and Jota the chance to start against Leicester. Although both managed to find the back of the net against the Foxes, one of them displayed a more promising performance.
During the first half with Liverpool trailing, Gakpo stepped up to the challenge after halftime. He delivered a well-executed strike that leveled the scores and consistently put pressure on Leicester’s midfield. Gakpo also contributed defensively and frequently dropped deep to connect with his teammates.
In contrast, Jota struggled throughout the match. His touches often proved too heavy, and he had difficulty finding opportunities to threaten the scoresheet. One clear chance in the first half went begging as he failed to capitalize with an open goal from a corner.
However, Jota, known for his prowess against Leicester, eventually made his mark. A magnificent flicked finish late in the game, following Quansah’s setup, secured a 3-1 victory. This goal extended Jota’s streak of scoring in every Anfield appearance against Leicester and increased his tally to nine goals against the East Midlands side, more than any other opponent.
The lesson here is that, for a forward, scoring and securing victory often outweigh individual performance. While Nunez and Diaz are likely to return to the starting XI against Tottenham, Gakpo and Jota demonstrated their scoring prowess, at least against Leicester.