Easy enough is easy enough and off the back of a comfortable victory over Chelsea on Friday night, Liverpool are in to the Fourth Round of the League Cup after keeping the big red train rolling past struggling Championship outfit Derby County at Pride Park.
Despite looking a bit off in the opening exchanges, Jurgen Klopp’s men were good value for money as the German manager made seven changes to the side that won at Stamford Bridge late last week. Philippe Coutinho, who wasn’t the only one who looked a tad sluggish, had a hand in all three-goals as Ragnar Klavan bundled home his dangerous corner to get the visitors on the scoreboard before the Brazilian not only added one of his own, but played a part in Divock Origi putting some extra icing on an already sweet cake.
The old adage that you can only beat what’s in front of you resonates just as loudly in the Third Round as it did in the last when Liverpool showed just what a massive gulf can exist between the top flight and the second tier when they put five past Burton Albion — and had they been on song tonight, you would have been a fool to bet against them doing the same to the Rams.
“We were better and deserved to win, we created chances. Could we have done better? Yes, a lot,” mused Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, speaking to the press following the final whistle. “Is it important tonight? No, because that’s what you want to have. You need to be 100 per cent professional, be really serious and take games like these like they are,” continued the German, frank in his assessment. “They could be difficult but it wasn’t difficult because of us.”
Although we only expected a little bit of tinkering to the team that won in the Capital on Friday, Klopp instead opted to shake things up by handing competitive debuts to the likes of Loris Karius and Marko Grujic and recalling Alberto Moreno and Klavan to the side with one eye on the meeting with Hull City at the weekend and the rotation worked to good effect when the Estonian defender bundled home Coutinho’s corner, but it was the familiar faces that did most of the heavy lifting.
Along with the Brazilian magician, his compatriot in Roberto Firmino were the real stars of the show, tormenting Rams pair Marcus Olsson and Alex Pearce with intelligent running and decisive passing and making Will Hughes — who has been so often linked with a move to Merseyside — mostly redundant in the middle of the park. Derby ‘keeper Jonathan Mitchell was lucky not to see more than three goals fly past him, but for all their attacking endeavor it was nice to see the Reds keep things tight at the back. Karius, often untroubled and playing further up the pitch than one would expect as the visitors spent most of their time attacking, had only a few chances to show what he could do as their toothless hosts failed to produce much by the way of danger. Quick thinking on the part of the German to rush out and sweep the ball away from the feet of Darren Bent after the striker had been played through boded well for him, but when he failed to punch away a relatively simple Hughes corner, you couldn’t help but envision the slaughtering Simon Mignolet would have been handed on social media as more than one eyebrow was raised.
Sometimes, after a match so one sided it’s hard to find talking points — and since I don’t want to discuss Nigel Pearson’s extra-tight track pants, the competition between the two Liverpool shot-stoppers would be good enough if, at this point, it actually mattered. Now, whether or not Karius will keep his spot between the sticks when we square off with Hull at the weekend remains to be seen, but having backstopped us in to the next round, at this point in time, that’s really all that matters.