Jay Percy recaps Liverpool Football Club’s summer pre-season preparations and discusses whether it has been a successful month for the Reds. 

Despite a frustrating transfer window, Liverpool’s pre-season has been a true success this year, especially with victories coming over European and Premier League pedigree teams such as Bayern Munich, Crystal Palace and Leicester City.

PL Asia Trophy

Liverpool looked to build on a 4-0 win over Tranmere and a 1-1 draw with Wigan with a trip to Hong Kong for the PL Asia Trophy.

The Reds kicked off their campaign with a semi-final win over Crystal Palace at the Hong Kong Stadium. Goals from youngster Dominic Solanke and Belgian Divock Origi helped the Reds advance and go on to face an in-form Leicester team in the final. Mohamed Salah also made his debut against the fellow Premier League side.

In the final, goals from new signing Salah and Brazilian playmaker Coutinho led Liverpool to silverware.

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Coutinho absolutely shone in this match and treated Reds fans to a performance full of promise for the upcoming season, despite reports linking him to the giants that are Barcelona.

Jürgen Klopp’s Reds looked sharp on the night and responded well to a headed opener from Leicester striker Islam Slimani.

With just over a week until the new season, Klopp should be happy with how his three forwards are linking up as well as Salah gelling further with his fellow reds.

Audi Cup

Liverpool overcame Champions League giants Bayern Munich in the semi-final. The win was a very convincing one with Carlo Ancelotti starting players like Alaba and Lewandowski.

The German side offered very little so Liverpool took advantage of this at the Allianz Arena. A through ball from Salah set Mané in on goal who calmly slotted it away with a precise finish into the bottom corner.

Later in the first half, Mohamed Salah opened his account for the tour with a header from six yards.

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After the break, Daniel Sturridge made a quick impact with an exquisite chip, again proving why when fit, he is one of the best strikers in the world. However, soon after striking the ball, he suffered a thigh injury which would force him off.

However, since then, Sturridge has come out and said the injury isn’t too serious and that he is hopeful to make the first Premier League game of the season next Saturday at Vicarage Road.

Liverpool played Atletico Madrid in the final and the game went all the way to a penalty shootout where the Reds merely missed out on another pre-season trophy.

 

Madrid opened the scoring with a header from short range after a superb acrobatic save from Danny Ward. Firmino then equalised after the break with a well-placed penalty into the bottom corner. However, this came from a dive from Belgian Divock Origi.

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There were no goals in extra-time but the penalty shootout was an exciting one with all players but captain Jordan Henderson scoring from the spot. Since then, many people have expressed their feelings that they believe Henderson should be stripped of the captaincy, which I believe is delusional!

Final Game

Liverpool finished off their pre-season campaign with a game against Athletic Bilbao. Roberto Firmino opened the scoring in the 21st minute, shortly followed by ex-Liverpool target Inaki Williams.

The 1-1 scoreline prompted manager Klopp into making a number of changes for the second half, one of which was responsible for scoring the second goal; young talent Ben Woodburn.

The 17-year-old bulleted a shot into the side netting with his weaker foot from the edge of the box, continuing an impressive summer. Woodburn has shone this summer and has many believing that he – alongside the likes of Ryan Kent – could break into the first team on a permanent basis.

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The third goal came from new signing Dominic Solanke. The U20s World Cup winner has a great eye for goal – scoring his second header in three games – which he has shown all throughout pre-season.

However, for Bilbao’s goal, the Reds defended poorly – in particular, Dejan Lovren. A combination of his mistimed slide tackle and a hint of luck set Williams through on goal who admittedly finished well.

This has therefore again sparked rumours of the transfer of Virgil van Dijk. The Dutchman has not yet handed in a transfer request to Southampton however, the final pre-season game highlighted that the need for a centre-half is becoming increasingly frustrating as it is where Liverpool desperately need to strengthen if wanting to challenge for a league title.

A summary

Overall, pre-season was a positive aspect of the summer due to wins over big teams such as Bayern Munich and other Premier League teams like Leicester and Crystal Palace.

The new signings also began to gel well with the team. Mohamed Salah was our top scorer well, Dominic Solanke also got on the scoresheet and Andy Robertson seemed to settle in as time passed through the games.

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Even Alberto Moreno silenced a few critics with some solid performances offensively and defensively. He may have just about salvaged his Liverpool career, which then frees up James Milner to play in the midfield three if needed, especially now that Adam Lallana is out for a couple of months and will miss the first part of the season due to an injury.

All in all – and injuries aside – it was a pretty successful summer on the pitch.