Liverpool have an unwanted third round FA Cup replay to add to their schedule, as Plymouth Argyle held out for a goalless draw at Anfield this afternoon.
The League Two outfit proved a stubborn opponent on Merseyside, in what was a disappointing display from a young starting XI for the Reds.
Jurgen Klopp was forced to bring on Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino in the second half, but the first team trio couldn’t help their side to avoid another meeting with the Pilgrims.
Having never lost an FA Cup game against an opponent in the fourth tier, Jurgen Klopp, on home soil, will have been confident of a comfortable victory, despite the average age of his starting line-up being just 21.
As expected, the Reds dominated possession on Merseyside, and while their League Two opponents had set up well, with each player sticking to the formation asked of manager Derek Adams, it was all too easy for the home side to dictate play.
There was no pressure on the ball, allowing Emre Can, Kevin Stewart and Ovie Ejaria to attempt to break down Plymouth’s defence from deep.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sheyi Ojo were proving a menace to Ben Purrington on the right flank, finding themselves in plenty of space to trick their way into the box.
The Pilgrims had offered little in the way of football for the first half, no doubt disappointing the away fans despite the scoreline remaining goalless.
But while their game plan left much to be desired it had so far done the job, with Liverpool, who may have been enjoying almost 90 per cent possession, yet to really threaten Luke McCormick’s goal.
Klopp will surely have encouraged his young team to speed up their play in his half-time talk, likely frustrated by the lack of pace in the final third. It was all too easy for the Reds to get on the ball, but they had yet to cause any serious danger.
Other than a strike from distance by Lucas Leiva, heading towards the hour mark and there was little change from the hosts, though. Sadly for Klopp, the game was screaming out for some senior influence to take to the pitch.
The German coach’s patience was wearing thin, but it was regular first-team midfielder Emre Can to leave the field, being replaced by Daniel Sturridge in the 63rd minute to a strong applause from the Anfield faithful.
And only a minute after his introduction, the England international came close after trying his luck from the edge of box, dragging his effort just wide of the post.
Plymouth weren’t without their threat, though.
Craig Tanner, who had just replaced Paul Garita seconds earlier, found himself in space on the right wing, before skipping past Joe Gomez to make his way into the box. But the 22-year-old saw his name in lights, with his shot comfortably blocked when the better option was to pass to his team-mate on the edge of the box.
With only a quarter of a hour to be played, Liverpool’s bench will have been getting nervous at the possibility of a replay, and this thinking resulted in Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino being thrown into action.
Neither player, though, had an impact on proceedings as they may have been expected to do so.
Liverpool’s sloppiness on the ball grew, helping Plymouth to see out the draw and earn a replay at Home Park.