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Harvey Elliott Steps Up For Liverpool

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at August 22, 2021

There was an element of surprise when Harvey Elliott’s name was included in Liverpool’s starting XI against Burnley for their first home game of the season.

This is a Burnley side with a reputation of being no-nonsense, difficult, and physical in their attempts to compete against the odds in the Premier League. A Burnley side that defeated Liverpool in this fixture last season, ending a 68-game unbeaten run in the league for Jurgen Klopp’s side at Anfield in the process.

It’s not a fixture for the faint-hearted or unprepared, so Klopp’s faith in the 18-year-old attacking midfielder demonstrates the high regard in which he is held by the Liverpool coaching staff.

Elliott’s inclusion will not have been a surprise for the fans or staff at Blackburn Rovers, though.

He spent last season on loan at the Championship side, who also happen to be Burnley’s biggest rivals, racking up 11 assists and seven goals and was widely considered one of the best players in the league.

The teenager was booed accordingly by the Burnley fans every time he touched the ball on his first Anfield start, but it didn’t affect him and he went on to more than justify his inclusion, completing the full 90 minutes in a 2-0 win.

Elliott not only remained on the pitch for the entire match, but he also influenced it, growing into the game after an occasionally hesitant start.

He played a sublime through-ball to set up Mohamed Salah for what looked to be Liverpool’s second goal just before halftime, only for it to be ruled out as the Egyptian had strayed slightly offside.

He was involved in the second goal when it eventually came, using his chest to control one of Virgil van Dijk’s trademark long diagonal passes, before feeding Trent Alexander-Arnold who set up Sadio Mane. This team goal was one of the highlights of the weekend and it was fitting Elliott was involved.

It’s rare that a Liverpool player emerges as a first-team player having spent time out on loan. In recent years the likes of Harry Wilson, Ryan Kent, Rhian Brewster, and Taiwo Awoniyi have all failed to make the first team despite reasonably successful loan spells.

Players who have made the step up from the academy to the first team, namely Trent Alexander-Arnold and Curtis Jones, have done so without going out on loan beforehand.

Elliott was able to show his class at Blackburn in a team whose initial aim was a push for the playoffs but ended up battling it out in mid-table in the second tier of English football.

Under the management of Tony Mowbray, the former Fulham youth player was asked to operate in a number of roles in variations of 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 formations.

He played regularly from the right where he could cut in onto his stronger left foot, but was also asked to drop into other positions, often during games.

As a result, the position he played on his full league debut for Liverpool, as an attacking midfielder on the right of a midfield three, is one he had already played for Blackburn.

He had also been involved in midfield diamonds playing on the left of the four, as well as occasionally operating as a No. 10 or even as a false 9.

If Mowbray had not used Elliott in such positions during the loan, it’s unlikely Klopp would feel confident slotting the teenager straight into the starting XI against a team such as Burnley — the type of opponent Elliott will have already faced in the Championship.

“Harvey was part of this performance,” Klopp said after the Burnley game. “Everybody wants to speak to me about Harvey and I absolutely understand, when an 18-year-old plays such a mature game, why everybody is asking, but I was not surprised he played like this.

“That’s exactly how he’s trained in the six or seven weeks he has been back with us from loan. It was good.”

Liverpool have turned to Blackburn again as they look to aid the development of another of their young prospects, the Blackburn-born (and Blackburn fan) Leighton Clarkson.

Elliott has shown a player can demonstrate their quality so clearly during a loan spell that they cannot be ignored when they return to their parent club.

His time at Blackburn, not just the quality of his performances but his tactical schooling and mental preparation, has stood him in good stead as he begins his career at the highest level of the game. Klopp obviously agrees.


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