The FA Cup third round weekend started with an entertaining Merseyside derby as Liverpool scored a late winner to beat Everton at Anfield. This was the second meeting of the two clubs in less than a month and it was a more ambitious Toffees’ team as they played higher up the pitch and tried to cause problems for the home side. They did remain well organised at the back, but they were more willing to commit men forward and that made for a good spectacle.
The headlines will be taken by Virgil van Dijk. After a long-protracted transfer saga, the Dutch international finally made his debut for the club and he produced the winning goal to see his new team into the next round. There were a lot of positives to take from the game for Jurgen Klopp as several players put themselves in contention for more game-time. The Reds will want to take this competition seriously and try to secure their first piece of silverware under the German. This was a good start to the campaign. Here are three talking points from Anfield:
Virgil van Dijk was worth the wait
It is too soon to judge the defender, but he has gotten his Liverpool career off to a great start with a very impressive performance. The Dutchman was slotted straight in at centre-back and looked the most composed man on the field for the majority of the match.
It was encouraging to see the rest of the back four look more confident and composed with the new signing alongside them. Andrew Robertson and Joe Gomez both produced excellent performances. The leadership of Van Dijk is already having a visible effect.
The 26-year-old is one of the best at competing in the air and he showed that on his debut as he won five aerial duels. In defence, he looked assured in everything that he did, with three ball recoveries and three clearances to stop Everton attacks. The threat that he poses from set pieces was talked about and it was on show on Friday night. There was a warning for Everton as he came close to scoring before his winner. He has a huge presence in the box and produced the deciding moment as he headed past Jordan Pickford. It was a great debut and gives him something to build on.
Everton need to spend money this month
During the match, Everton announced the signing of Cenk Tosun and they will need to provide Sam Allardyce with more signings if they are to re-establish themselves as a threat to the top six. They may have been willing to commit more men forward, but they didn’t cause Liverpool with a lot of problems. The visitors managed only four shots during the entire game.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin was a willing runner and showed good pace, but there was too much being asked of him. Wayne Rooney was more interested in showing passion than playing football and Yannick Bolasie didn’t look fit. The Everton attack lacked ideas and quality. The options on the bench showed the lack of quality in the squad and why they’ve regressed during the last 12 months. Ademola Lookman is a talent, but he is unlikely to change a game against Liverpool.
Even the defence showed the problems that Allardyce has inherited, as Jonjoe Kenny and Mason Holgate showed their inexperience at times. The latter was lucky to stay on the field after an incident with Roberto Firmino. The young players at the club have all showed their talent in recent weeks, but it is clear they need more established talent. Tosun is a good start, but more have to follow.
Andrew Robertson is the long-term solution at left-back for Liverpool
The headlines will be taken by Virgil van Dijk and rightly so after a great debut. However, it could be argued that the man of the match was Andrew Robertson. The left-back arrived under the radar after the relegation of Hull City, but he could prove to be one of the shrewdest transfers made by the club in recent history.
He was excellent at the back today and seemed to benefit from playing alongside Virgil van Dijk. The left-back completed six tackles and made four clearances. Robertson won the battle with Yannick Bolasie and was playing like a seasoned professional. He never looked flustered and his decision making was flawless all night.
Robertson was signed for his attacking quality and that was on show against Everton. He whipped in a couple of excellent crosses and came close to scoring as his shot was well saved by Pickford. The movement to get into the final third was very impressive and showed the intelligence that he already possesses at the age of 23. Liverpool need to nurture his talent and develop him into a leading Premier League left-back. This performance showed that he has it in his locker.
Is Juan Foyth a ready-made replacement for Toby Alderweireld?
The Argentine youngster joined Tottenham Hotspur from Estudiantes last summer.
According to reports in Belgium this week, Tottenham Hotspur have given up hope of keeping Toby Alderweireld.
HLN has reported Spurs have accepted defeat in trying to convince the Belgian of signing a new deal after failing to agree on wages.
Therefore, Tottenham will sell the 29-year-old this summer, with £43 million the asking price.
Tottenham could be looking for a new signing in the summer to replace him, but rather than spending big on a new recruit, they should instead give a chance to someone already at the club.
The player in question is Argentine defender Juan Foyth.
Spurs brought in the young defender from Estudiantes last summer for a fee reported to be in the region of £10 million by ESPN.
His signature was heralded as a success for the London outfit after the Times had reported PSG had instead got the youngster.
Foyth has played just eight times for Tottenham this season, with none of those appearances coming in the Premier League.
But at just 20-years-old and new to English football, that was to be expected.
Mauricio Pochettino is known to be a huge fan of his countryman and Foyth has impressed in the FA Cup this season.
As a ball playing centre-half he is the type of player Tottenham want at the back to take the team into the future.
With Alderweireld gone, Tottenham will be short a defensive option.
Jan Vertonghen will be the pillar in the centre of defence, with Davinson Sanchez an impressive talent alongside him.
Eric Dier’s versatility makes him an option. Foyth would then argue the case that he is next in line and deserves a shot at establishing himself in the Tottenham first-team.
It is certainly a possibility.
Tottenham also have highly-rated American defender Cameron Carter-Vickers out on loan at Ipswich Town, who could take Foyth’s place as fifth-in-line, if Tottenham give the Argentine his chance.
The likelihood is that Spurs will bring in a new recruit to replace Alderweireld. Perhaps a player with more experience will instead be pursued.
Foyth has not yet proved himself in the Premier League, so laying it on the line for him next season would be a massive risk by Pochettino and Tottenham.
But there is certainly a chance that the £10 million youngster could take Alderweireld’s place next season.
Luka Modric could prove the perfect Emre Can replacement at Liverpool
The Croatian has been linked with a move to Anfield with Emre Can expected to leave this summer.
Emre Can looks set to be on his way out of Anfield this summer as the 24-year-old German international seems unwilling to sign a new contract at Liverpool.
Spanish news outlet El Gol Digital have recently linked Real Madrid with the German international, although they would have to fend off interest from European rivals Juventus.
Speaking to Sport 1, Can recently expressed his desire to be featured in the world team of the year at some point in his career.
For the 24-year-old, it would be difficult to turn down a club of Madrid’s magnitude and his departure would represent a blow for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Nonetheless, a swap deal for Real Madrid star Luka Modric would be a superb way to ease the pain of the German’s exit.
Reports linking Can with the Bernabeu come just a matter of weeks after Spanish newspaper Dario Gol expressed Luka Modric’s desire to leave the current Champions League holders.
The Croation international is reportedly keen on a return to the Premier League return, with Liverpool, along with Tottenham, named as front-runners for his signature.
Even at 32 years of age, the Croatian midfielder is still one of the best players in the world and would represent an excellent short-term fix for the Reds.
His brilliant passing range, his superb footballing brain, and his delicate skills are all crucial components that would boost Liverpool’s attacking threat.
Combined with a world-class attack consisting of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane, the Reds truly could stake a claim for the most dynamic frontline in England next season.
Most importantly, the addition of Modric could finally mark the replacement for Philippe Coutinho that many Liverpool supporters have been begging for.
A seasoned international with tremendous experience at the upper levels of world football would be a remarkable transfer for Klopp’s side, and would surely bolster their title aspirations in 2018/19.
Matty Foulds has not fulfilled two-year Everton promise
The one time ‘next John Stones’ has not lived up to his potential.
In November 2015, Everton agreed a deal to sign teenage defender Matty Foulds from Bury.
The then-17-year-old agreed to join Everton in January 2016 and was immediately hotly tipped for a bright future at Goodison Park.
As reported by the Liverpool Echo, the deal cost Everton £225,000 and the club expected him to be playing first-team football within the next two years.
Such high praise and expectation soon saw him earning the moniker of ‘next John Stones’, considering the England international’s rise from the Football League.
So, it is now over two years since Foulds joined Everton and, as of yet, the first-team has not been calling.
The now 20-year-old defender has not yet made his first-team debut or even a matchday squad.
Foulds, who played just four times in Everton’s triumphant Premier League 2 Division One win last season, has not made the progress many at the club thought he might.
This season, he has established himself as a more regular feature, playing 11 times, mostly as a left-back, despite originally arriving as a ball-playing centre-half.
Foulds, whose current deal expires in the summer of 2019, has clearly not lived up to expectation just yet.
It could be he has fallen victim to the change of management at Everton. Roberto Martinez spoke highly of Foulds when signing him.
The Spaniard would have had a vision of him playing first-team football for Everton, but Ronald Koeman and Sam Allardyce may not share such expectancy.
Foulds also has plenty of competition at Goodison Park.
Last season he could not get past the likes of Antonee Robinson, Callum Connolly, Morgan Feeney and first-team regulars Matthew Pennington and Mason Holgate.
This campaign he has been a regular but has not featured in the club’s last four under-23 ties.
Lewis Gibson has been preferred at left-back with Foulds also struggling with injury.
It certainly appears as though Foulds has not lived up to the expectations Everton had for him when he first arrived.
Next season, contractually, is his last at Finch Farm and Foulds will need to massively improve if he is to have any long-term future at Goodison Park.
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