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:
“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.”