Liverpool’s pre-season proceedings got off to a solid start after a 1-0 victory over fellow Mereyside outfit, Tranmere Rovers on Friday.
This was Liverpool’s first match since May 18, the date of the 3-1 defeat to Sevilla in the Europa League Final. The Reds began their pre-season here, at Prenton Park, at National League side Tranmere Rovers, marking the start of a pre-season that consists of a tour of the US as well as the first few matches being played in England.
Since the heart-breaking defeat to Sevilla, Jürgen Klopp had started going about bringing a new goalkeeper in Loris Karius, Joel Matip, in centre defence & Senegalese striker Sadio Mané from Southampton for £34m, to replace the likes of Christian Benteke & possibly Mamadou Sakho. Were the signings from Klopp worth it? Was the gamble on Mane’s price right?
Liverpool gave all of those three debutants a start in the starting 11 for the Reds:
— Tranmere Rovers FC (@tranmererovers) July 8, 2016
Kick off was delayed by 15 minutes due to congestion outside Prenton Park, but when the game eventually got underway, we pressed Tranmere high up the pitch, gave them little time on the ball, and often forced them into a mistake, thanks to the pace in our squad we inherited from Mané. However, unexpectedly, new signing Joel Matip fouled a Tranmere player within 20 seconds of his first Liverpool appearance, but somehow, we rallied not to concede from a set piece.
Klopp had kept faith in a lot of the youngsters, including young Ovie Ejaria, who impressed immediately from the first whistle, with an influx of pace, skill and clever movement, very contrary from what the journeyman Christian Benteke had to offer at Anfield.
Ryan Kent also made a good impression, and had a magnificent effort early on curl just wide of the bar. It wasn’t just the youngsters getting noticed, Sadio Mane, the striker who signed for Liverpool from Southampton earlier this summer, was using his pace to get behind defenders and created several good opportunities for his team-mates.
Despite individuals between our team showing good link up play and signs of promise, we simply didn’t test the Tranmere goalkeeper enough, and we almost fell behind from yet another set-piece, this time, a Tranmere corner.
There were a sea of red shirts in the Tranmere box, none of which picked up Rovers defender McNulty, who saw a header brush against the bar, which was as close as the home side got to a breakthrough. But, Liverpool had a glorious opportunity just before the break as Sadio Mane got behind the Tranmere defence, only to see his effort clawed away.
The second half saw all changes to the Liverpool XI.
The second half produced little excitement or pizzazz, as typified in a pre-season match, despite a decent turnout from fans in the ground. The first real opportunity for the second 45 fell to Liverpool striker Danny Ings, who missed a one-on-one chance with the keeper, and Markovic couldn’t turn the rebound in, as Liverpool’s attacking force grew more and more frustrated.
Finally, though, Ings got his reward for persistence, as he followed up some great hold up play from Alexander-Arnold to clinically finish in the corner. That was about it, though, in terms of action for the second half, as the match closed out in dire fashion, and the Reds’ performance began to mitigate.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is likely to be left satisfied by his team’s showing in the first half, and the youngsters’ work rate in general, pointing at a probable start for impressive youth players such as Ejaria & Alexander-Arnold. Surely Mane’s performance tonight would boost his confidence going into the new season as well.
Liverpool travel to Fleetwood Town on Wednesday evening.