Feb 01, 2016

    Reds alert: At least 7 matches this month


    JUERGEN Klopp faces an unwanted fixture pile-up after Liverpool were held to a dour 0-0 draw by West Ham in the FA Cup fourth round at Anfield on Saturday.

    Reds boss Klopp picked a fairly inexperienced team in order to give several senior players a rest but the stand-ins were unable to find a winner against opponents who lost James Tomkins and Cheikhou Kouyate to first-half injuries.

    Young midfielders Cameron Brannagan and Joao Teixeira had shots beaten away by Hammers goalkeeper Darren Randolph.

    The latter was fielded because first choice Adrian had returned home to Seville to attend the birth of his first child.

    Christian Benteke also failed to convert three second-half chances, meaning Klopp's side must travel to Upton Park for a replay on Feb 9.

    Liverpool, who are still competing in four competitions, had played nine matches last month, and now face at least seven this month.

    Klopp named inexperienced youngsters Brannagan, Brad Smith, Kevin Stewart and Teixeira in his line-up as he made 10 changes to the side who overcame Stoke on penalties last Tuesday to reach the League Cup final.

    The Liverpool manager was keen to rest key players ahead of tomorrow night's trip to Premier League leaders Leicester.

    On Saturday, they were unable to find their way to victory, despite creating several good chances in the second half, with Teixeira and Benteke both failing to beat goalkeeper Randolph when well placed.

    Klopp, though, felt his young players justified their inclusion in the side, and indicated that they are likely to feature in the replay at Upton Park.

    "We will have a team for the replay at West Ham, and maybe it won't be too far away from this team today," said Klopp.

    "You can ask me about Joao Teixeira and Cameron Brannagan, but if you want to mention names, there are others too.

    "Five weeks ago, Kevin Stewart was at Swindon and not playing too often.

    "Brad Smith made a big step in the right direction and did really well at full-back.

    "That was really cool.

    "Sheyi Ojo came in and again did well as a substitute, and so did Jerome Sinclair.

    "So there's a lot of potential.

    "That's very important. But it's important not just to know about it.

    "The players have to show it, but as a manager, you also have to show that you are seeing their steps.

    "That's what we tried today. I'm pleased with this.

    "These boys would have deserved to win tonight but it is what it is."

    West Ham manager Slaven Bilic, meanwhile, gave credit to his side for being resilient, as they overcame the first-half losses to injury of defender Tomkins and midfielder Kouyate.

    "Overall, I am happy with the result and I congratulate my guys. Drawing at Anfield is tough.

    "It is also tough to keep a clean sheet in Anfield," said Bilic.

    "Nobody wants to play a replay because of the schedule but we can live with that.

    "It's much worse for them. We didn't deserve more than a replay tonight but we also deserved it because we defended really well."