Liverpool: Arthur starts and Jay Spearing re-debuts in tight Liverpool U21s defeat

EFL Trophy (2), Spotland
September 20, 2022

Goal: Campbell 82

At his request, deadline-day loanee Arthur is spending the international break as part of the U21s squad, as well as following a bespoke training regime to build his fitness and sharpness.

After 90 minutes in the 1-0 win over Leicester on Saturday, the Brazilian kept his place as a mixed lineup took to Spotland in the EFL Trophy.

With a large group away with their national teams, Barry Lewtas was forced to deploy players out of position, with midfielders James McConnell and Luca Stephenson in defence, while 16-year-old Lewis Koumas started in attack.

There was a calmness in midfield with both Arthur and Stefan Bajcetic impressing, but Liverpool understandably struggled for fluency against physical, senior opposition.

Few opportunities came Liverpools way before the break, though Bajcetic saw a hopeful effort sailed wide as he let fly from range.

HT: Rochdale 0-0 Liverpool U21s

The Reds looked to gain the lead soon after the break, with Arthur heading off target and both Bajcetic and Koumas looking to test goalkeeper Richard ODonnell.

Lewtas first changes came after the hour, and they were clearly planned ones, as Arthur and Bajcetic made way to be replaced by player-coach Spearing and 15-year-old Carter Pinnington.

With Spearing not having played a competitive game since May and Pinnington having only recently been given his first taste of under-18s football, Liverpool were unsurprisingly under pressure following the double change.

They continued to hold on until the 82nd minute, with Tahvon Campbell then breaking through and chipping Luke Hewitson, before Rochdale were awarded a chance to make it 2-0 from the spot after Oludare Olufunwa brought the striker down.

Summer signing Olufunwa received a second yellow card but Hewitson saved the spot-kick, sparing Liverpools blushes further on a night where they could be forgiven for the result.

Liverpool U21s: Hewitson; McConnell, Olufunwa, Stephenson, Norris; Bajcetic (Pinnington 63), Arthur (Spearing 63), Corness; Koumas (Hayes-Green 88), Blair, Stewart

Subs not used: Kelly, Gyimah

Next match: Arsenal (H) Premier League 2 Saturday, October 1, 2pm (BST)