Liverpool’s stuttering start to the season survived yet another scare at the hands of Middlesbrough, courtesy of an epic penalty shootout. The Reds dominated play, clocking a skewed 78% of the possession. However, their possession didn’t translate into anything concrete as the side was starved of chances by a tight Middlesbrough defence. The night marked the full Liverpool debuts of two players at either ends of their careers with Rickie Lambert and Jordan Rossiter taking their place in the starting eleven. At just 17 years of age, Rossiter had already got the Kop excited merely by the virtue of being hailed as the new Stevie G by the legendary Robbie Fowler.
As if the assurance from the God wasn’t enough, Rossiter soon left an impression on the game by drilling in a goal from 30 yards out. He was lucky to score considering the distance and the number of bodies between him and goal. However, it seemed like the game of football had rewarded him for his relentless approach to the game throughout his formative years.
Having joined the Liverpool academy at 6, the youngster has rapidly progressed through the ranks impressing a lot of people en route to being in contention for a starting spot at Anfield. The midfielder played 79 minutes on his senior debut and there was nothing to suggest he was overawed by the situation. He was calm and composed in possession, instructive as ever to his peers to get into position and often demanding his share of the sphere from his more illustrious teammates. Blessed with a bagful of technique and confidence, the youngster will be afforded a few chances in top flight this season. With Rodgers’ reputation as a manager who gives the young the chances they deserve intact, Rossiter will be looking to leave a mark on the gaffer’s mind with his performances.
He made a total of 68 passes through the game at an astonishing accuracy of 91%. While deeper-lying players do have a tendency to record higher passing accuracy by the virtue of passing into safer areas, Rossiter was constantly looking to pass forward. He has been described as someone with “an extensive passing repertoire with either foot” on the club’s website and he lived up to the billing on Tuesday. His passing off either foot was smooth and he did find his team mates with long, searching balls on 2 occasions. He recorded one shot on target, courtesy of his goal in the 10th minute. While any odd goals will only add to his confidence, it will be fair to say that he will find the going tough against better opponents and goal scoring as a measure to evaluate his performances would be hard.
The Liverpool Academy Player of the Year for 2013-14 made 2 tackles, one of which was the crucial tackle to deny Reach from getting into a very good position on the left-flank. His other defensive contributions to the side came via the 2 clearances he made and the solitary aerial duel he won. He wasn’t dispossessed even once through the game, nor was he dribbled past by an opponent. However, there were occasions through the game when Jordan did look fragile and slow getting into 50-50 duels but that’s something he will hope to acquire as he progresses in his senior career.
The youngster has moved very rapidly through his career, often playing in age groups higher than his. However, many a name have floundered while having to make the big leap. He is still a work in progress and the coaches at the academy will be looking to help him chisel out the deficiencies in his game in order to ready him for many a battle ahead.
With LFC’s title run still on course, the management at Anfield will be hoping to provide the gem at their hands as many chances as they can to ease him into rigours of top flight football. Despite all the accolades coming his way, the youngster has kept his head on his shoulders and worked hard. Going by his desire and tenacity to perform, we believe this is only the beginning of a glorious time ahead for the young Scouser.
-Stats from WhoScored