Joe Gomez relished the 'massive honour' of captaining Liverpool as they advanced to round four of the Carabao Cup by beating Norwich City 3-0.
The centre-back was one of nine players brought into the starting line-up at Carrow Road on Tuesday night and was handed the armband for the first time since arriving in 2015.
A brace from Takumi Minamino sandwiched Divock Origi’s 10th goal in the competition for the club to ensure the Reds were victorious on Gomez’s special occasion.
“It was a massive honour,” he told Liverpoolfc.com post-match.
“Obviously after the period I’ve had, the different injuries and coming back, I’m relishing every minute and on top of that, to be able to captain the side was unbelievable. I really enjoyed it.
“You’re responsible to try to lead as best you can. Everyone does that in different ways. I knew you don’t want to do anything over the top or out of the ordinary, you want to be yourself.
“The boys, everyone is unbelievable so there’s not much you need to say; it’s just about trying to be confident and give as much encouragement as possible.”
Jürgen Klopp’s chosen XI against the Canaries included senior debuts for Conor Bradley and Kaide Gordon, while Tyler Morton then entered the action from the bench for the second half.
“They all did unbelievable,” said Gomez of the trio from the Academy. “A special mention to each and every one of them.
“We saw glimpses in pre-season of how good they are, a lot of training sessions they come up and train with us. They all did unbelievable.
“It’s not easy to come away without much rhythm and make your debut away at a tough place like this. Each of them did especially well.”
Minamino converted from close range with just four minutes on the clock to give Liverpool an early advantage in the third-round tie.
The visitors needed Caoimhin Kelleher to save a penalty from Christos Tzolis before the break but quickly strengthened their grip on the tie when Origi headed in Kostas Tsimikas’ cross.
Minamino nudged home a decisive third in the latter stages to book the Reds’ place in the draw for the next stage, which takes place on Wednesday night.
Gomez reflected: “We obviously knew it was going to be a tough test, coming away to a Premier League team with this many changes. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
“But to come away with a clean sheet and be as clinical as we were, was really positive. Obviously they had their phases in the game but I think overall we can be really happy.”
The manager has shuffled his central defensive options for recent games, with Gomez returning to the side tonight after featuring versus AC Milan last midweek.
On his approach to the competition for game time in that position, the No.12 said: “That desire, just try to apply it every day in the gym and on the training pitch. That’s all I can do.
“I know I’m at a top team with unbelievable players around me and part of that is just trying to play your part to push them. Aside from that, it’s just patience.
“I’m enjoying being part of it and being fit. I’m at a great facility with great people, a great club. I’ve got to enjoy that and just be ready for when the time comes.”
Here are four key things from the manager’s post-match press conference on Tuesday:
[embedded content]1. Minamino’s “important” 90-minute display
It was a brace for Takumi Minamino as he scored his first goals for the club since December 2020 in a confidence-boosting display.
It’s been far from smooth sailing for the 26-year-old but his performance, in both midfield and attack, will only offer a boost for the coming weeks and months.
“Taki’s in a really good moment. I know he’s not played too much but in the wrong moment he was injured, coming back – it’s not so easy.”
For the player and the club, it was the type of display needed after widespread debate over the Reds’ depth in attack.
“He’s a top character and it was important for him and important for us.”2. “The kids did exceptionally well”
And the manager was delighted with what he saw.
“The kids did exceptionally well, I have to say.
“All three really physically strong, that’s maybe the biggest surprise that they could go 90 minutes. I’m really happy for them.”
The kids are alright!3. Gordon’s brilliant message of gratitude
Speaking of the kids, Kaide Gordon – who became the fifth-youngest player for the club – had a brilliant reaction as the boss approached after full-time.
“The first thing Kaide said to me after the game when I wanted to say congratulations, he said ‘thank you!'”
Class isn’t it. He’s just 16-years-old!
“He’s good! A lot of things to improve, a lot of things to settle and a lot of things to learn. But there’s already a lot of things there.
“We will treat him carefully. A big talent.”4. Bobby return pending
After missing the last four games, Roberto Firmino is still on track for his return after more than three weeks on the sidelines.
Klopp confirmed that the No. 9 did participate “in parts” of team training on Monday and “so he will be back not too far away.”
Brentford will likely come too soon but after a couple of injury concerns in recent games, it’ll be a welcome sight to see him return to the fold.
Jürgen Klopp was left hugely satisfied as a much-changed Liverpool side beat Norwich City 3-0 at Carrow Road in the third round of the Carabao Cup.
Takumi Minamino’s fourth-minute opener was followed by a Caoimhin Kelleher penalty save late in the first half, before Divock Origi glanced in the Reds’ second of the night early on in the second period.
And Minamino made it 3-0 late on to seal comfortable passage into Wednesday evening’s fourth-round draw.
Klopp made nine alterations to his starting line-up, with Kaide Gordon and Conor Bradley handed full senior debuts and fellow Academy player Tyler Morton coming on at half-time.
Read on for a transcript of the boss’ post-match press conference…
On whether it was a ‘perfect night’ for Liverpool…
No, but for good reasons. It was not possible to be a perfect day today because we had to make too many changes to have natural solutions for the problems we would have in the game. They were clear. We started really well and I liked that - really aggressive, really lively, but then you could see we didn’t train because we had to make a lot of decisions really late. The last line and the goalie saved us in these moments with speed, good challenges and stuff like that, so there was not really something in it for Norwich. We scored a goal, a really good goal again after a set-piece, a massive ball, massive. Half-time we had to change and Naby had kicked the grass, a little… sort of thing, we are not too concerned but we had to change. Then, we had Curtis in the half-space and Tyler in the six and it looked much [more] natural immediately so then the boys passed quicker, passed smarter and we changed Oxlade, a little bit higher on the pitch on the left wing, and Taki, who is obviously in really good shape, more in the centre and half-spaces so Ox could use his speed and Taki connected the game together with Tyler and Curtis. So, it was all good, we scored the second and third goals and controlled the game, which was absolutely brilliant. The kids did exceptionally well, I have to say. All three, physically really strong and that’s maybe the biggest surprise, that they could go 92 minutes. I am really happy for them, it was a big moment for the boys.
On what the two goals will do for Minamino…
It is just a logical thing. He is in a really good moment; I know he didn’t play too much, but in the wrong moment he was injured, coming back and stuff like this. It is sometimes not so easy, but he is a top character and he enjoyed the game tonight. That was important for him and important for us, so that will help him and will help us.
On whether Liverpool have proven they have enough depth in attack…
I was never in doubt about that. We said [it] before. Bobby trained yesterday, the first time, parts with the team, so it is not too far away when he will play again. We have already two midfielders out and we should make sure that number doesn’t get bigger. The start of the season so far was good for the whole squad, but it’s only the start and there is a lot more to come.
On how Minamino has been training and whether a lack of game time has been ‘frustrating’ for him recently…
I am not sure if it was frustrating. A footballer wants to play, that’s clear, and it didn’t happen too often. He was with the national team and he got injured there, came back and was not fit immediately and became fit since he is back. It is now not that he did not play for 16 weeks or whatever, it was the time after the injury. Other players need time as well to get back on track after an injury, but Taki is in a good moment, trained really well and deserved these two goals. The first one, really good awareness, quick in mind, finished the situation off. The second one I didn’t really see 100 per cent but the acceleration in the box in the short, small space was really good. He was in pre-season really good, then he started, then he got injured and now the rest of the season starts. Nobody needs to worry, Taki will be fine.
On why he switched Minamino to midfield for the second half…
We wanted him as a footballer in midfield because Taki looked really strong today. We didn’t use these half-spaces enough so we put him there. We wanted Oxlade then with a little bit more freedom on the left wing. That was the reason, just so that he can connect the game. Taki is a smart player and he can play different positions, that was the reason.
On 16-year-old Gordon’s performance…
Yes, he’s good - that’s what it says about him. He’s good. A lot of things to improve, a lot of things to settle, a lot of things to learn but there’s a lot of things already there. We are really happy to have him around and we will treat him carefully, let me say it like this. But I am really happy that he is here, he is a big talent. But Conor Bradley, the first Northern Irish player since 1954, if somebody would have told me that before then I would have brought him probably earlier! But he played a super game and Tyler really as well, I have to say. I am really happy for the boys. It was a big one for all three. The first thing Kaide said to me after the game, when I wanted to say ‘congratulations’, he said to me, ‘Thank you!’ I said, ‘Nothing to thank me for, you deserved it.’ All fine, these boys are good and thank God they are ours.
League Cup Third Round, Carrow Road
September 21, 2021
Goals: Minamino 4′ 80′, Origi 50′Debut trio
Kaide Gordon impressed in pre-season and picked up where he left off – at senior level a least – right here.
A debut at 16 is never to be taken lightly and never handed out without being deserved, and the hope will be this is the first of many.
In flashes he was impressive; overall he didn’t let the team down or cost any big chances through a lack of tracking back or awareness.
Conor Bradley debuted at right-back, meanwhile: a Mascherano-style debut for him in that his club bow comes after his senior international one.
Decent, aggressive, forward-thinking, quick to overlap; there was a penalty given away, too, a foul of the kind overly impetuous young defenders are prone to producing.
Nothing to worry about, plenty to admire.
Three senior players started who would hope to feature more regularly and more relevantly in 2021/22 than they did last year: Ox, Taki and Divock.
The former, in midfield, had a poor first half and a decent second one. He hasn’t hit the ground running, but he did keep running, keep working, keep looking for the ball.
Origi was better in this game than any last season, effective in leading the line and linking play, notching a decent header and getting an assist of sorts for the opener.
Playing this way he’s a useful option against the lesser sides – the issue, as ever, is getting him to play this lively on a consistent basis, especially when his overall appearances are anything but consistently spaced out.
The standout was Taki Minamino, though.
Two well-taken goals, plundered from close range, showed both his intent to get into dangerous areas and his composure under pressure.
Elsewhere he was again hardworking, neat with his exchanges of passing, perfectly capable dropping into midfield or out to the left and rarely found wanting tracking back.Centre-back depth and rotation
Liverpool appearances, hey? They’re like buses for Ibou Konate, who was waiting for his debut over a month and then got two in a few days.
Two clean sheets, too, even if our newest arrival was hardly tested too much this time.
It still feels more like a runout opportunity than a chance to truly stake his claim for a place in the side right now, which is fine – we’re suddenly well-stocked at centre-back after all.
Joe Gomez, captain for the night, was a steady presence, eager to step out and fulfil the Van Dijk role of winning back possession before it could become a danger to the team, though he did produce one or two rash challenges in doing so.
More steps for both players in attaining full fitness and fluidity in the side, which is the big positive.
Curtis Jones made his 50th appearance in a Liverpool shirt; the only academy graduates who have played more times for the first team since Steven Gerrard’s debut are Jon Flanagan (51), Jay Spearing (55), Martin Kelly (62), Stephen Warnock (67) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (184 and counting).
Fairly safe to say he should get past all but one of those, with another very solid outing, this time as the deepest of Liverpool‘s three midfielders – a role of real responsibility which he filled with both defensive tenacity and on-the-ball quality.
Of course, there’s a nod to Caoimhin Kelleher for his penalty save, but also for his anticipation in clearing up plenty of balls in behind his defence, even outside his area.
Both were pretty much flawless all night.
It might be a bigger night for the ‘keeper: into double figures for Liverpool appearances and this one with a clean sheet in front of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny, who wants him playing more minutes.Next up
To Brentford! The Community Stadium awaits the Reds on Saturday evening – they smashed Oldham 7-0 in their tie while the Reds strolled to victory, so confidence will be high there, too.
That should prove our biggest domestic test of the season so far, Chelsea aside, and it won’t be a surprise to see the teamsheet show another glut of changes.
It’s non-stop action right now, with Porto in midweek and Man City to follow before the next international break interruption.
Getting there with three more wins in the bag would make it a spectacular start indeed – but first, it’s the Bees, who have most definitely already shown they carry much more of a Premier League sting than the Canaries do.
Keita himself struggled to stamp his authority on proceedings on a night where Norwich fielded five players under the age of 21 in their starting XI.
A change in midfield had been expected to tighten things up, with the 26-year-old the one not to return after the half-time break as Tyler Morton was introduced to shuffle the pack.
And while tactically it made sense for Liverpool, Keita’s withdrawal was one that was taken with risk management in mind after he made contact with the turf and felt the impact.
“Naby in the first-half kicked [the turf] and I don’t think it’s serious but we didn’t want to take any risks. That’s it,” Klopp told Sky Sports post-match.
With just four days until the trip to Brentford in the Premier League, the hope will certainly be that Keita will be firmly in the mix for selection with Klopp not sounding particularly pessimistic about the situation.
The No. 8 has already played more than a third of the total games he amassed last season (16) in the opening weeks of 2021/22.
Liverpool U18s were beaten for the first time in 2021-22 as they suffered a 3-1 defeat against Derby County at the Academy on Tuesday night.
Oakley Cannonier’s 10th goal of the season had drawn the young Reds level in the first half, but two Derby counters after the break secured all three points from the U18 Premier League clash.
There was a fairly frenetic start to the game in Kirkby, with both sides looking dangerous – though it was the visitors who took the lead on five minutes.
Zion Dixon, a late addition to the line-up, dragged a shot towards goal and while it lacked power it was placed well enough to hit the post and cross the line.
Liverpool regrouped and began to create their own opportunities, Isaac Mabaya crossing from the right for Iwan Roberts to head over, before a fine run from Bobby Clark was only stopped by a foul on the edge of the box. Captain Luca Stephenson’s free-kick was too high, however.
Cannonier has been in outstanding scoring form this term and the striker almost levelled midway through the half.
A high press won the ball for the Reds and when Melkamu Frauendorf crossed from the right, the 17-year-old’s shot on the turn rolled agonisingly wide.
Seconds later, a fine pass from the back released Mabaya on the right and he looked to have Cannonier free in front of goal, but an excellent interception from Charlie Rutt cleared the danger.
The hosts were well on top now, with Luke Chambers overlapping dangerously on the left, and Roberts coming into the contest down the same side. And it was a corner won by the latter from which the equaliser duly arrived.
Derby failed to clear the initial set-piece and when Stefan Bajcetic drilled the ball back across goal, Cannonier was in the perfect spot at the back post to turn it in.
There were further chances at both ends before the half-time whistle, Clark’s goalbound effort deflected wide for the Reds while Dixon blazed over from a good position in front of Fabian Mrozek.
Cannonier looked to have given the home side the lead within two minutes of the restart, cutting inside a defender and poking the ball past visiting goalkeeper Alfie Roberts. A clearance off the line cut short any celebrations, though.
Jayden Danns arrived from the bench for his U18s debut, replacing Cannonier just after the hour, and with his first touch teed up Frauendorf for a terrific low effort that curled just past the post.
Within five minutes, however, Derby had regained the advantage. A rare break from the away team allowed Bayo Fapetu to fire past Mrozek.
Danns was in a great position to attack a fine cross from Chambers but headed over, while Fapetu met a corner at the other end with a powerful header but it was too high to bring his second.
Substitute Wellity Lucky found space in the box to head just wide from a corner for the Reds inside the last 10 minutes and Clark twice went close as Marc Bridge-Wilkinson’s side piled forward in a storming finish.
Those efforts were always likely to leave them open to another break, though, and on 90 minutes Sam Sebagabo beat Mrozek to seal the win for Derby.
Liverpool U18s: Mrozek, Mabaya (Lucky, 61), Chambers, Bajcetic, Miles, Stephenson, Frauendorf, Clark, Cannonier (Danns, 61), Pilling, Roberts.
Unused substitutes: Davidson, Davies, Gyimah.
Kaide Gordon and Conor Bradley make their senior debuts for Liverpool in tonight’s Carabao Cup third-round tie at Norwich City.
The pair – aged 16 and 18, respectively – are named in the Reds’ line-up at Carrow Road, while Tyler Morton and James Balagizi are on the bench.
Ibrahima Konate and Kostas Tsimikas are the only players to retain their places in the starting XI from Saturday’s Premier League win over Crystal Palace.
Joe Gomez is named as captain.
Liverpool: Kelleher, Bradley, Konate, Gomez, Tsimikas, Keita, Jones, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gordon, Minamino, Origi.
Subs: Adrian, Henderson, Jota, Robertson, Phillips, Morton, Balagizi.
After winning the title in 2019/20, Liverpool were unable to compete the following season, with their third-placed finish an impressive achievement considering.
Such is the nature of modern society that the repeated injuries prompted a witchhunt, with so-called fans on social media pointing the finger at Morgan.
“Being part of a football club’s medical setup is a tough job, I can tell you,” the captain explained.
“They have to deliver news to the manager he might not want to hear but ultimately needs to.
“As players we don’t want to be anywhere near their room as it means we have an issue that potentially could, or actually does, prevent us from training and playing.
“And frankly, most of us aren’t always the easiest of characters to control when we have injury issues.”
He added: “The part which troubles me – and I only really became aware of it last season – is how much online abuse these guys get when a club has injuries.
“It is shocking. It also makes no sense. Absolutely none.”
Henderson went on to detail the immediate aftermath of Harvey Elliott‘s ankle injury, and the role Morgan played in his swift care along with club doctor Jim Moxon:
“I could pick out anyone from our incredible setup to highlight what these guys do for us – day in and day out – so we can get on the pitch and win games for Liverpool.
“I could write a list of everyone in that department – they’re all out of this world – but on a personal level, I do want to flag the guy who was on the pitch at Elland Road and who had Harvey in his arms within a time period two seconds quicker than Usain Bolt ran the 100 metres in his prime. That’s Chris Morgan.”
It is not only Elliott, though, who would attest to the top-level work Morgan puts in behind the scenes, with Henderson using his own experience along with praise from Steven Gerrard:
“When I had my injury last season it was Chris who was up until 2am researching the best techniques that could help advance my recovery.
“He’s the guy who was there for me 24/7 – despite having a family of his own to worry about – if I needed reassurance in vulnerable moments.
“I know Steven Gerrard has spoken so highly of Chris in the past and credited him so much with helping him through injury issues during his career.
“When someone like Stevie says that about someone so publicly, so emphatically, it speaks volumes about them, the work they do and the trust placed in their ability.”
Is it a surprise that those hiding behind player photos and @SZN handles on social media are out of touch with the reality of life at a football club? Certainly not.
But it is always worth a reminder from the likes of Henderson and Gerrard that the staff appointed by Liverpool are to be trusted in these situations.
“I referenced earlier that these guys have a thankless task in many respects,” the 31-year-old concluded.
“But that doesn’t apply in the dressing room. Our appreciation is absolute.”
Andy Carroll has reflected on the events surrounding his British-record move to Liverpool and his time at Anfield, admitting he was not prepared for the demands.
It was a surreal time to be a Liverpool supporter, as the club made two late moves to replace Fernando Torres on deadline day of 2011.
In came Luis Suarez from Ajax, while a £35 million transfer was agreed with Newcastle to sign one of the rising stars of English football in Carroll, who had already scored 11 goals and laid on seven assists in 19 Premier League games for the Magpies that season.
Carroll became the most expensive British player in history, but failed to meet expectations on Merseyside, with 11 goals and six assists coming in 58 games before joining West Ham a year-and-a-half later.
After his time in east London, Carroll returned to Newcastle, but having spent two more years at St James’ Park was released this summer, and the free agent recently spoke to The Athletic.
His interview with Alan Shearer saw him discuss the nature of his move to Liverpool, suggesting if he had had it his way he would never have left his boyhood club.
“It was mad. I’d just bought a house in Newcastle, so I was sorting that out, then I was in a hotel in Liverpool not knowing the city, not knowing anyone,” he recalled.
“I couldn’t get to grips with it, or how to live and how to be at that club.
“The way I’d played at Newcastle – that was how I wanted to play. But Liverpool was completely different.
“I should have embraced their ideas, what they wanted. Thinking back, I really didn’t appreciate what I had and what I could have achieved.”
In reality, while Carroll could have done more to adjust to the style of play favoured at Liverpool, the club were wrong to pin their hopes in the entirely wrong type of striker.
The diverging fortunes of Carroll and Suarez with the Reds is an apt portrayal of the situation – the Uruguayan thriving as the relentless, clinical forward, while the Englishman stuttered as an ill-fitting No. 9.
Liverpool‘s former striker highlighted “Newcastle, the first time” as his happiest period in football, saying: “The Championship, getting promoted, being at home with my family and friends and being the No. 9 for Newcastle…it was everything.”
While he is often depicted as a troublesome character, it is hard to escape the fact that he was never comfortable with leaving Tyneside, particularly in the circumstances that surrounded his headline-grabbing switch to Liverpool.
It would be difficult to blame Carroll in that respect, with it simply the wrong fit for the player, at a time when the club were desperate for a rebuild.
[unable to retrieve full-text content]Visit our Match Centre to follow live and interactive coverage of Liverpool's Carabao Cup tie against Norwich City at Carrow Road.
Clark officially joined the Reds from Newcastle in August, and has already featured twice for the Liverpool under-18s, scoring on his debut against Nottingham Forest.
The 16-year-old, son of former Mapgies midfielder Lee Clark, was also on the bench for the UEFA Youth League opener against AC Milan, having settled in quickly at Kirkby.
Klopp has already taken a look at Clark in first-team training, as part of a young group padding out the numbers during the international break.
And according to The Athletic‘s Caoimhe O’Neill, both the manager and his assistant Pepijn Lijnders are said to be “big admirers” of the versatile attacker.
It was Klopp who, along with academy director Alex Inglethorpe, helped convince Clark to join Liverpool ahead of Man United, Man City, Tottenham and Leeds, with visits to Kirkby and Anfield helping him make the decision.
Interestingly, O’Neill notes how United’s signing of Ethan Ennis from Liverpool earlier in the summer financed the deal.
Ennis swapped Merseyside for Manchester in a deal worth £750,000 rising to £1.5 million, plus a sell-on clause, with “almost identical” terms agreed with Newcastle by assistant sporting director Julian Ward.
It is a sizeable fee for a player who, unlike Gordon at Derby, did not make his first-team debut for Newcastle – nor, despite Steve Bruce’s protests after the deal’s completion, was he close to a breakthrough.
Along with sessions under Klopp and Lijnders, Clark has also worked with both Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman, part-time coaches at Kirkby, since his arrival.
Liverpool appear to have taken a shift in their approach to youth recruitment in recent years, with Inglethorpe presiding in a quality-over-quantity stance.
A focus on homegrown talent is encouraged, with Clark the latest example, joining an U18s side that also includes the likes of James Balagizi, Luca Stephenson and Oakley Cannonier.