It has been an interesting week for Liverpool. Manager Jurgen Klopp decided to hand his first-team stars a break, in keeping with the rules of the Premier League’s inaugural winter break. That, however, was preceded by a rant against the scheduling executed by the FA Cup, with Liverpool’s 4th round replay against Shrewsbury Town falling in the Reds’ winter break. When Jurgen Klopp announced to the media that he would not take charge of Liverpool in the replay and neither would any of his first-team stars feature, the FA decided to retaliate in an unusual fashion. As a pushback, the FA decided to prohibit the broadcast of the Liverpool vs Shrewsbury Town match-up at Anfield. Liverpool supporters, however, found a way to circumnavigate this turn of events.
19y 102d - With an average age of 19 years and 102 days, Liverpool have tonight named their youngest ever starting XI in all competitions for the second time this season, surpassing their lineup for the League Cup quarter-final against Aston Villa in December (19y 182d). Break. pic.twitter.com/iUM7BjIyvx— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 4, 2020
There was a general consensus among fans in England that Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool were disrespecting the FA Cup in a way. With Jurgen Klopp refusing to take charge of the 4th round replay, Liverpool’s U-23s manager Neil Critchley ruled over Liverpool’s proceedings on the night. It was also evident that Liverpool would field a comparatively younger side, with the academy slated to be heavily involved. The attendance on the night at Anfield was reported to be 52,399, according to The Athletic’s James Pearce, with Liverpool’s squad numbers clocking in at an average of 63.
Liverpool fans who were hoping to catch the game on live television were dealt a blow when the FA announced that there would be no broadcast for this particular game. However, with a touch of ingenuity, Liverpool fans scoured the internet for streaming details of the FA Cup game. A vast majority of Liverpool fans ultimately ended up streaming the game via illegal means, with the rest following a live blog on the Liverpool website. Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian also streamed the game, posting a grab of the stream on his Instagram.
40 - Liverpool are now unbeaten in 40 games at Anfield in all competitions (W35 D5), winning each of their last seven home matches without conceding a single goal. Playground. #LIVSHR pic.twitter.com/IXgviJCQZv— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 4, 2020
The game ultimately ended up being decided by an own goal after a cross from young right-back Neco Williams was turned in by his namesake Ro-Shaun Williams. Liverpool now proceed to the 5th round of the FA Cup, where they will face Chelsea next month. While the win against Shrewsbury was celebrated with much aplomb by Liverpool fans, they did have one question on social media: Was Jurgen Klopp disrespecting the FA Cup by refusing to take charge of the side, or did the FA Cup disrespect the fixture by prohibiting the broadcast of the game while underestimating Liverpool’s U-23s?