Liverpool ran out 2-0 winners over Crystal Palace in their PL Asia Trophy fixture on Wednesday and a number of things caught the eye.
In a way it felt a little bit like the Premier League was back as the Reds took to the field against Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
A little bit anyway.
There were encouraging signs ahead of the Eagle’s second-week visit to Anfield and Klopp will be hoping for more of the same – if not a better performance – by then.
The overall performance was assured, solid and conducted with few problems. However, there were a few noteworthy topics of discussion that came out of it.
A bright debut for an even brighter kit
The fixture was a fairly routine procedure for the Reds who dominated the ball for much of the 90 minutes and as expected, were the better and fitter side for much of the contest. In the respect of being a quality matchup, the fixture fell flat on it’s face.
The Reds really could’ve won the game by four on the night – Daniel Sturridge, in particular, was incredibly unlucky to see his well-met strike turned behind by a Palace body – but as it stood, a stunner from Solanke and an opportunistic finish from Origi were enough to seal a victory.
The game, however, was at least notable for marking a successful debut for the Reds bright, new, ‘bold citrus’ alternative kit.
It became a running joke that the lime-green, ‘Toxic Thunder’ kit from last season was cursed and was at the centre of the Reds worst performances – a lot of people seemingly forgetting the 4-2 victory away at Palace, or the 3-0 away to Middlesbrough.
The new orange kit, however, had no such issues against the Eagles and superstitious Reds fans will be hoping it’s a sign of things to come.
Solanke off the mark
As mentioned before, young striker Dominic Solanke got himself off the mark in a Red – well, orange – shirt with a superbly taken finish from range just past the hour mark.
The Englishman received the ball from an Origi back-heel flick, controlled, took aim and fired low and hard past a stranded Wayne Hennessey to put the Reds 1-0 up.
It was the kind of finish expected from a seasoned Premier League hitman such as Daniel Sturridge or Sergio Aguero, not a 19-year old.
Nice goal from Solanke! Great way to announce yourself to the Liverpool faithful. pic.twitter.com/N5AHeAo3tY
— Rousing The Kop (@RousingTheKop) July 19, 2017
The former Chelsea forward has been in good touch so far in the Reds pre-season and certainly doesn’t look short of confidence. The goal will have been good for him on a personal level while also proving to Klopp that he was right to target the Under-20s World Cup winner.
Salah and Mané set to be a terrifying partnership
We already knew what Sadio Mané could do for Liverpool and now, just 90 minutes of pre-season football into his Reds career (two 45 minutes halves across two games), we’re getting a real glimpse of just what Mohamed Salah is made of.
The Egyptian netted against Wigan last Friday in his first appearance in a Liverpool shirt and he looked on top form once again, wreaking havoc with his pace, dribbling and scarily accurate left foot.
The winger was unlucky in both halves to be denied a goalscoring opportunity by the whistle. Brought down in the first period by a cynical challenge from Scott Dann who he’d just nutmegged with a deft touch, the Egyptian would’ve been through one on one with the Palace ‘keeper and it was evident that none of the Palace back three fancied catching him to put him off.
Before being replaced in the second, Salah looked to have found himself free, unmarked in the opposition box but the Palace defence had just timed their collective step-up right and the linesman’s flag was raised.
Liverpool looked an entirely different animal with Sadio Mané tearing down the flanks last season, imagine what they’re going to be like with Mané and Salah doing it together.
Jordan Henderson take a bow
Jürgen Klopp had asked for patience when it came to Liverpool’s skipper before pre-season began, recognising that he was returning from a long-term injury and that he would need time to bed back into the Reds’ lineup. There were no such worries in Hong Kong.
Henderson was on fine form, snapping into tackles, winning possession back wherever possible, covering practically every blade of grass on the field and showcasing his absolutely exemplary passing range.
The captain’s ability to switch play on the turn, pick 45 yard passes without trying and keep the Reds in possession was sorely missed at the back end of the season and it’s incredible to think there are people out there who still don’t rate him.
Come on Virgil, hand in a transfer request already
Sorry, I’ve just got to say it.
Seeing the Reds out there in their orange kit made the image of ‘Virgil van Dijk the Liverpool centre half’ even more appealing.
The Reds trialled two different centre back pairings across the 90 minutes, Matip/Gomez in the first half and Lovren/Klavan in the second and while they ultimately kept a clean sheet between them, it was evident that Matip is just a class above the rest of Liverpool’s centre back options.
Adding Virgil van Dijk to the squad would see the Reds boast a ridiculously classy, solid and composed centre-back pairing and would go a long way towards helping the club towards silverware and a potential first Premier League trophy. He’d also look good in the orange – just ask Wijnaldum!
He may be proving incredibly hard to sign but the Reds should most certainly not be abandoning the chase just yet. Would be nice if he just could do us a favour and hand in that pesky transfer request already to save us any further hassle.