Adam Bogdan gets bullied too easily, the Merseysiders need to buy a new centre-back and other things we learned from Exeter 2 Liverpool 2
By Editor Wayne Veysey
Bogdan fluffs his audition
Bogdan failed to grasp his opportunity at Watford three weeks ago and it was a similar story tonight. Like the direct corner that slipped agonisingly beyond him on the cusp of half-time, he failed to grasp it with both hands. Bogdan will replay Exeter’s second goal over and over in his head. It was a horrendous error made even worse by the presence of the live TV cameras. Bogdan’s aerial uncertainty was highlighted at Vicarage Road before Christmas and it is clear there is a mental issue for the big Norwegian when it comes to dealing with high balls. There are significant question marks over Simon Mignolet, who is no Manuel Neuer, but it’s safe to say the Belgian is not about to lose his place to Bogdan.
Sinclair has put himself in shop window
Liverpool’s youngest-ever debutant was making only his fourth appearance for the club three years after his bow aged 16. Jerome Sinclair has not quite progressed as many at the club had hoped but he took full advantage tonight of a rare start to seize upon a defensive error and slot in a first-half equaliser with a polished finish. Out of contract at the end of the season, the teenage striker has put himself in the shop window.
Klopp must buy a new centre-back
In no position are Liverpool more injury-ravaged than centre-back, where there are now no men left standing. With Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho, Dejan Lovren and Kolo Toure all sidelined, Jose Enrique and Tiago Ilori formed an emergency centre-back pairing. Ilori, on his first start for the club, demonstrated an alarming lack of robustness and was subbed at the 76-minute mark. Klopp almost has no choice but dip into the transfer market this month and buy a proven centre-back to swell his depleted ranks.
Smith is an able deputy for Moreno
Liverpool’s most impressive performer was Brad Smith, as it was the last time they played a weakened team, in the Europa League clash at Sion in mid-December. The left-back did not only score the second equaliser to take the tie to a replay but provided an excellent outlet on the left flank with his purpose and quality on the ball. The Australian has leapfrogged above Enrique, used as a makeshift centre-back on this occasion, to be a very able deputy for first-choice left-back Alberto Moreno.
Benteke given back-handed compliment
To be given the Liverpool captain’s armband would normally be a great honour but it felt like a back-handed compliment for the Belgium international. Christian Benteke was the only first-teamer in the team selected by Jurgen Klopp and had another mixed evening. He came close to scoring an equaliser with a bullet header only to be denied by a brilliant equaliser but the striker otherwise disappointed. For a player who scored two matchwinning goals during the festive period, Benteke seems alarmingly devoid of conviction.