Tuesday night saw Liverpool’s third loss in as many weeks.
Considering they had lost just twice all season before that, this can certainly be classified as their first real blip of the campaign. Of course, to get to February having been on the losing end on just two occasions is certainly nothing to be embarrassed about, but the fact that two of these losses have now come in two cup competitions suggests they are beginning to struggle at the wrong time.
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It was Chelsea who inflicted the latest defeat of Jurgen Klopp’s men, with the Blues prevailing 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. This was still a relatively strong Liverpool side even with a few first-team regulars missing – Virgil van Dijk, Sadio Mane and Andrew Robertson were all named in the starting XI.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was one of those given the night off, though, with 19-year-old Neco Williams coming in to replace him.
The Welsh teenager has caught the eye this term, with it being suggested that his displays would see him receive a new contract.
In an underwhelming showing from the whole side, Williams was one of those to particularly struggle. Even facing Pedro, who has just one goal and two assists in 12 starts in all competitions this term, he struggled to prove his credentials.
The 18-year-old managed only one tackle and one interception, and won just four of 11 duels. In possession, the teenager wasn’t much better either, losing possession 29 times and failing to land a single one of his 10 attempted cross.
Alexander-Arnold is arguably the best right-back on the planet – being named as number one in his position in ESPN FC’s top 100. He has been the Reds’ creative force this term too, leading the way with 14 assists in all competitions – but the lack of options behind him has not been good news for Klopp.
Williams was tipped as the man to be his back-up option, but based on this performance, that is something he will struggle to do. He may still be 18, but perhaps the Reds could still do with dipping in to the transfer market for an alternative to the England international – there is still progress to be made by the Anfield outfit.