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Monday 13 May 2013

Barclays U21s: Liverpool eye Old Trafford upset

Ahead of their semi-final against Man Utd, we look at Liverpool's Under-21s

Liverpool's Jack Dunn has a lethal shot with his left foot

Throughout the inaugural Barclays Under-21 Premier League has brought the latest news and results from the competition.

As the competition enters its final stages we look more closely at the teams taking part in the final stage. In the second semi-final Liverpool take on Manchester United at Old Trafford. The match, which kicks off 7pm, is free entry for Man Utd executive members, season-ticket holders and official members. For non-members admission costs £5 for adults and £2 for under-16 and over-65 non-members. More details here.

Neil Mellor, the former Liverpool player who works for LFC TV, which will show the match, tells us more about the Liverpool team.

Liverpool's season so far

Played 26; Won 15; Drawn 7; Lost 4; Goals for: 52; Goals against: 31.
Phase 1: 1st (Group 3)
Phase 2: 3rd (Elite Group)
Final stage: 14 May v Manchester United (A), Old Trafford, 7pm (semi-final).

Three players to watch out for

Jack Dunn (18) - Dunn is an attacking player who always finds good areas on the pitch. He has fantastic vision, great ability and a great touch on the ball. He can play in the No 10 position, the No 9 and is also comfortable on the right side of the attack.

The former captain of the U16s has a lethal shot with his left foot and is also a very intelligent player. He plays with a lot of passion on his sleeve, which is refreshing to see as not many players these days play with the passion Dunn has. He has an infectious will-to-win attitude on the pitch.

Jordon Ibe (17) - Ibe is a wide man who can turn defence into attack very, very quickly. He’s a key player in the 4-3-3 formation. He has shown in the FA Youth Cup run this season just how much he has grown as a player and he’s a key player for the Under-21 side now. At the start of the season he wasn’t even in the Under-21 set-up so he has benefitted from all the coaching at the Academy and has improved a lot this season.

Ryan McLaughlin (18) - I also really like the right-back, McLaughlin. He is another youth-team player who has done extremely well and you forget just actually how young he is as his performance level is so high it makes you think he is an experienced player. He is very creative as a right-back, he fits the Brendan Rodgers model of attacking full-backs. He has got a lot of assists and won a few penalties this season. He has the right attitude and can hopefully progress to the next level at Melwood in the near future.

What style of play do the team have?

The Academy have a close relationship with the first team and they play mostly a 4-3-3 formation. Certainly since Rodgers took over the club Alex Inglethorpe has implemented that even more since he took charge of the Under-21 team. It requires the three midfield players to get on the ball as much as possible, keep moving the ball as much as they can and keep possession and control games as much as possible.

What are your team’s strengths/weaknesses?

The strengths have been that so many of this team are so young. They are a group of young players who still have many years to develop. A major strength has been they have able to compete so well at this level against older players.

A weakness of the side would be learning more the importance of defending set-pieces. We know from first-team level that set-pieces can decide games and there have been a few times that results have gone against us because of that this season. It is a learning curve as a young player but they need to learn very quickly.

What has been the highlight match of the second stage?

I’ve enjoying watching a few games this season. Certainly the 2-1 win away at Wolves, at Telford United, was a very good game. They trailed to a first-minute goal but they showed a fantastic attitude. The team was made up entirely of Academy players, which was pleasing to see.

The most enjoyable game was the 3-2 win over Arsenal at Anfield. Arsenal are a very strong side and they had an experienced goalkeeper in Wojciech Szczesny and Liverpool showed a great attitude in response to their defeat at home to Tottenham. It was a really enjoyable game with some cracking goals and it showed how much it meant to the players to get the chance to play at Anfield.

Who is the manager?

Alex Inglethorpe was appointed Under 21 coach in November last year, joining from Tottenham Hotspur after six years at White Hart Lane. As a player, Inglethorpe's career began at Watford, where he mainly played in the attacking midfield role.

After a loan spell at Barnet in 1995, Inglethorpe signed for Leyton Orient before making the switch to Exeter City in 2000, where, but for a brief loan at Canvey Island, he played-out the final days of his on-pitch career.

Inglethorpe's first role in the dugout came at Leatherhead, from where he moved on to Leyton Orient as Under-19 coach in January 2004. Nine months later, he became manager of Exeter City and during his tenure there, the non-league club recorded a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford against Manchester United in the FA Cup third round.

In June 2006, he joined Tottenham and served as assistant to caretaker manager Clive Allen until the appointment of Juande Ramos. In November 2012 he arrived at Liverpool's Academy to replace Rodolfo Borrell as Under-21 manager after the Spaniard moved on to the role of head of academy coaching.

You can follow developments on Twitter with the Premier League's account @premierleague or via the hashtag #BU21PL

Key Points

  • Ahead of the final stage of the Barclays U21 Premier League we look at the participating teams
  • Neil Mellor, the former Liverpool player, tells us more about his club's Under-21s
  • Liverpool will play Manchester United in the second semi-final

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