The FA Cup is always good for a surprise. It comes in at a crucial part of the season for the premier league sides, for one thing, making it likely that lineups will reflect its secondary importance for those in the hunt for bigger things. The minnows still rule the roost, in terms of teams in it. The end result is that every round tends to produce a headliner or three.
Shrewsbury showed up well, and their pitch was surprisingly good for a stadium of a team struggling in third tier. They came out of the gate with all the desire and passion that a team so inferior must possess in order to generate one of those attention grabbing scorelines. And in the end, they did, coming close to knocking the mighty Reds outright, a result that would have probably suited Klopp better than the eventual draw, seeing as the one thing he didn’t want was a replay.
Yet it is a replay he is getting.
The game stats do them no favors. This was not lucky. The Shrews – I had to look that up – took advantage of every little thing they could, and absolutely earned their coming visit to Anfield, something they will not mind. If it weren’t for a miserable own goal, in itself – and perhaps fittingly – a beauty of a strike, they would have had a rather unexpected scalp to add to the walls at New Meadow. Curtis Jones again showed his quality by giving Liverpool a lead, and so when Shrewbury went down two a mere 30 seconds into the second half, it seemed all over.
Somehow, it wasn’t. Larouci’s foul could have been a red, so he should have counted himself lucky, but it was also outside the box, so it should not have been a penalty. Jason Cummings didn’t mind, and converted it coolly against an up-to-that-point Liverpool man-of-the-match Adrian (there, that should tell you something). His even cooler finish for the second goal confirmed his status as the, uh, Origi of Shrews (Shrewrigi?), and earned him that very same award for the game. I mean, a sub coming on and scoring vital goals to keep the team alive? Where have I heard that before? Plus the original article didn’t really show up for this game, much like many of his teammates. They were present in body, but not in mind nor spirit.
When Klopp has to add Ox, Mo, and Bobby in succession to try and desperately win a game against a team like this, you know there is a big, big issue. I, for one, would not want to be a Liverpool player in the dressing room after this one.
Still, it is good to get a kick in the behind when you seem to be coasting. Liverpool is still in this cup – much to the german’s dismay, I am sure – and the final stretch of both the premier and champion leagues is beckoning. Shrewsbury provided a solid reminder to the team, and to all of us supporters who just can’t wait for the 30-year nightmare to be over, that every opponent can ding you if you aren’t careful. Mentality monsters must stay mental to win.
Otherwise, we’ll be just another good team.