It may only have been a pre-season friendly but Saturday’s match at Preston provided plenty of talking points and perhaps raised some interesting questions and ideas ahead of the new season.
Agger the new vice-captain?
Brendan Rodgers says he hasn’t made a decision on the new vice-captain yet, following the retirement of Jamie Carragher this summer, but perhaps Daniel Agger being handed the armband is an indication that the Dane will be the man to take over the role?
Agger is certainly a leading candidate, alongside Lucas who captained the side in the second half. Even newboy Kolo Toure could be a surprise shout for the job. Agger was presented with the Shankly Shield after the match, picking up some silverware!
Toure put in an impressive shift, even more so when you consider that he is current fasting for Ramadan and pitchside temperatures were a sweltering 30 degrees at Deepdale. Recent reports have suggested that the Reds may not sign another first-choice centre back, and with the Ivorian being handed the number four shirt, perhaps we will be seeing a lot more of Toure and Agger as the first-choice centre back partnership this season. I’m predicting a cult hero in the making.
Also of note was Andre Wisdom getting some time at his more natural centre back position in the second half. The 20 year old has been linked with a loan move this season, he was very vocal alongside Skrtel in defence. He had a good performance and the ‘Wisdom’ of Rodgers not wishing to loan him to another Premier League club, from where he couldn’t be recalled, makes sense.
Pacheco, Spearing and Assaidi
Three players who started the match and most likely won’t be at the club once the transfer window closes. Pacheco in particular is a curious case – he must have featured in every Liverpool pre-season for at least five years now, yet has made 5 Premier League appearances in all that time.
Spearing played at right back, with young Jon Flanagan switched to left-back. This was presumably due to lack of left-back cover in Jose Enrique’s – as far as I’m aware unexplained – absence. The centre midfielder may see new boy Luis Alberto playing ahead of him and realise his future really does lie elsewhere. Spearing is 25 this year, time to move on.
Paul Machin, from Redmen TV, probably provided the best description of Assaidi in their match-reaction show. “He just looks surprised and utterly shocked whenever he gets put in a position anywhere on the pitch with the ball”. Enough said!
Aspas vs Borini
Fair to say Borini didn’t have the best performance, missing two good opportunities during the first half, one a complete one-on-one. While Aspas was lively, created problems, showed some nice touches and link up play around the box and of course got on the scoresheet.
It will be interesting to see where the two of them will be used this season, with much relying upon Luis Suarez’s future of course. Should Suarez, in the unlikely situation, remain, both could find their opportunities as wide-men rather than through the middle as they were on Saturday.
I’ve written before that I expect Aspas will occupy the role from the right of the attacking trio replacing Stewart Downing, who was pretty poor. Some good passing combinations of one-touch football between Alberto, Aspas et al were ruined by Downing slowing the play on numerous occasions. I doubt Downing will be here come September.
The other debutant was fellow Spaniard Luis Alberto. The new number 6 was deployed in a central role alongside Lucas for the second half, in the position occupied by Steven Gerrard last season.
Alberto’s position prior to signing for Liverpool was described as more of an attacking midfielder or even a forward – in the false 9 position – but perhaps Rodgers sees his future as more of a ball playing central midfielder.
Other notes from the game were Simon Mignolet‘s distribution, which was good, Jordan Ibe and Raheem Sterling looking good out wide, and Philippe Coutinho‘s excellence in a central attacking midfield role – missing out on Mkhitaryan may mean Rodgers will instead sign a winger and leave the Brazilian behind the forward.
Let us know what got you thinking from the match in the comments below.