Jürgen Klopp does not regret Liverpool’s youngest lineup in Argyle FA Cup draw

• Liverpool manager says Plymouth deserve replay after 0-0 draw
• Argyle’s Derek Adams hails League Two side’s defensive display

Jürgen Klopp said he had no regrets over selecting the youngest starting lineup in Liverpool’s history and a third-round replay at Plymouth Argyle was deserved reward for the League Two side after their display at Anfield.

Liverpool were held to a goalless draw by what Derek Adams, the Plymouth manager, confidently described as “probably one of the best defensive performances Anfield has seen”. The visitors, often with 10 men behind the ball, restricted the Premier League side to few goalscoring opportunities in a dour contest and the teams will meet again at Home Park on 17 or 18 January.

Klopp had no complaints over the scoreline and said he was relieved the Anfield crowd did not head home after an hour of a “boring” game. The Liverpool manager conceded his team’s performance was not up to this season’s standard but, despite picking a starting lineup with an average age of 21 years and 296 days, insisted his decision would prove beneficial in the long term to the likes of Ben Woodburn, Sheyi Ojo and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

“I don’t think the lineup was a mistake, it depends on how you want to see it,” Klopp said. “We made mistakes in the game and, as it is always with the boys, the good things they are responsible for and the bad ones I am responsible for. If you want to see it in a bad way then I am 100% responsible. I have no problem with it. I take it even if we played a fuller squad.

“I always choose lineups to win the game and I accept that was not positive in all situations today but in a lot of ways it was. It is really important for us having games like this where we have to fight for the result with a different lineup because we have a long season to go.

“Making all the changes doesn’t make it easier for the boys, I know, but they need this experience too. Now they have it and now we can go home.”

Plymouth’s designs on a goalless draw and replay were evident from the start and Klopp pinned no blame on a defensive approach by lower-league opponents, only the second team to keep a clean sheet at Anfield this season. He said: “It was a very dominant game from my side but not with real chances. There were one or two shots but they did everything they had to do to deserve a rematch and now we have it – yippee!

“I don’t think they could have attacked more. We had the ball all the time and we had to use it better than we did. There was more space in the game than it looked and that’s where we could have done things differently. We always waited until Plymouth were back in position again. It was boring. I really am happy that the Liverpool crowd didn’t leave after 60 minutes because it wasn’t the most exciting game.”

Gary Miller, the Plymouth right-back, was taken to hospital with a suspected broken ankle after landing awkwardly but that was the only sour note for Adams and the 8,600 supporters who travelled from Devon. The Plymouth manager said: “That was probably one of the best defensive performances Anfield has seen. We defended deep, in numbers, allowed Liverpool to have the ball and that was the gameplan. You have to stop good players having space and time.

“I thought we would have a couple of opportunities and we did but we did not take them. But we limited Liverpool to not many. They got wide and got crosses in but we dealt with them well.

“It was about negating the space. We didn’t allow them to have any. We allowed them time on the ball and to move it but didn’t let them open us up. It would be naive to come here as a coach or manager and think you could go at top-class players. We worked on it and did really well.”

As for the League Two team’s prospects in the replay, Adams said: “I don’t know about winning but we will give it a go.

“Yes, we’ll have to open up a bit to get to the next round but the main purpose if we couldn’t win today was to take them back to Home Park. We are getting closer to building that main stand now.”


Andy Hunter at Anfield

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