Jack Hallows brings you a few points he found interesting in Liverpool’s impressive 3-0 victory over Hertha Berlin in Germany.
The unbeaten pre-season continues and how!
The Reds were dominant from the word go against Hertha this evening and really, 3-0 was a flattering scoreline for the home side.
Without further ado, let’s get into the talking points from the game.
Dominic Solanke stakes his claim
He only started the game because of a minor injury strain suffered by Divock Origi before kick off but Klopp will be glad that he was able to give the 19-year-old the chance.
Solanke was superb against Berlin, hounding the defence whenever the Reds lost the ball and exhibiting clever movement, smart positional sense and once again proving that he possesses a mature head on young shoulders. A well taken looping header to open the scoring was just the icing on the cake in truth and capped off a superb 45 minutes.
If the 19-year old keeps this up over the Reds next three pre-season fixtures – against Bayern Munich, Napoli/Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao – he could find himself working his way into Klopp’s immediate plans and forcing his way ahead of both Origi and Ings in the pecking order.
No Dejan Lovren. Preparing for a new arrival?
There have been rumours on social media this week that a deal – or at least a fresh bid – for Southampton centre back Virgil van Dijk is nearing fruition and one has to wonder whether it could be true after Dejan Lovren was not given any minutes against Berlin.
Klopp opted to start Ragnar Klavan alongside Jöel Matip for the fixture and instead of bringing on Lovren at half time, allowed the partnership to continue until past the hour mark when Jon Flanagan joined the fray, replacing Matip and seeing Gomez move centrally.
Whether Klopp is just trying to assess his options to work out the best partnership to start the season with or seeing how Matip performs alongside defenders other than his Croatian pal is unclear but it could signal that Lovren’s starting place is definitely not secure ahead of the coming season.
Coutinho + Salah = Goal
We saw against Leicester just how well Coutinho and Salah have already gelled and the Reds’ third goal was another perfect example. The Brazilian barely even had to lift his head to know where Salah was going to be, flicking the ball over Berlin’s defence with a perfectly weighted pass that allowed the Egyptian to steal in behind, easily burn his defender for pace and dink a lovely finish over the goalkeeper.
The pair made it look ever so simple and personally, the thought of those two playing together in the Premier League this season, accompanied by Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino, is just mouth watering. Good luck Premier League defences. You’ll probably be needing it.
The 4-2-3-1 makes an appearance
The Reds have spent much of their pre-season playing in the 4-3-3 system that became Klopp’s staple last season but upon the introduction of Ryan Kent just past the hour mark, the system changed to a 4-2-3-1.
Henderson and Ejaria dropped into a midfield two, while Kent went left, Salah right and Firmino acted as a no.10, floating in behind and around Sturridge who remained up top as the lone striker.
The system looked solid defensively and seemed aimed primarily at shutting up shop and protecting the lead, allowing the Reds to hit Berlin on the counter attack with the pace they possessed on the wings.
It’s likely that the 4-3-3 will remain the staple this season – especially if Klopp’s main personnel remain fit and ready for a large percentage of the games – but a 4-2-3-1 with Firmino buzzing around a flat track bully like Sturridge could be a smart choice against deep-lying teams.
A pair of welcome returns and a successful debut
Emre Can and Sadio Mané were welcomed back with open arms to Liverpool’s starting XI and while both understandably looked a little rusty, they also looked at times as if they’d never been away.
Mané was his usual self, using his lightning pace and game intelligence to great effect and carving out chances not only for himself but teammates and setting up Wijnaldum for the second goal. Emre Can meanwhile did what Emre Can
Emre Can meanwhile did what Emre Can does. Raking passes, clattered into tackles and one ridiculous run straight through the middle of the entire Berlin team.
Alongside the returning duo, new signing Andy Robertson also made his first appearance of pre-season and his first overall for the club.
The former Hull defender looked comfortable on the back foot and was rarely stretched – unlike Moreno who was in all sorts during the first period – but it was on the front foot that he really shone.
One left footed effort just seconds into his debut set the tone and he looked superb on the overlap, lashing in smart crosses with his left foot and looking to get around the outside to support Firmino and Kent at every opportunity.
First impressions aren’t everything in football but they’re certainly important and Robertson’s was nothing if not impressive.