10 things we’d like to see from Liverpool in opening pre-season friendly

Liverpool kick off their pre-season at Chester on Saturday afternoon, with youngsters looking to impress and new signings hoping to settle in early.


Nothing is definitive in pre-season, and it would be remiss to draw conclusions after the Reds’ opening friendly at Deva Stadium.

But the summer’s preparations can provide an indication of things to come, as well as giving both the squad and Jurgen Klopp an opportunity to make progress ahead of 2018/19.

With a host of key players unavailable due to international commitments, the weekend’s clash with Chester will be an interesting one for supporters.

Here are 10 things we’d like to see from Liverpool on Saturday.

 

An Opportunity for Ward

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 9, 2017: Liverpool's goalkeeper Danny Ward warms-up before the FA Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by Don Jackson-Wyatt/Propaganda)

While Loris Karius will be the focus between the sticks on Saturday, we will also see Danny Ward given a chance for 45 minutes.

The Wales international spent the majority of last season travelling and training with the first-team squad, but made just one appearance in the League Cup.

With Simon Mignolet currently at the World Cup and expected to leave this summer, Ward can assert himself as Karius’ deputy—and possibly a candidate for the role of first choice.

 

Gomez’s Chance at Centre-Back

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 4, 2017: Liverpool's Joe Gomez prepares to take a throw-in during the FA Premier League match between West Ham United FC and Liverpool FC at the London Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With Nathaniel Clyne struggling for fitness, Joe Gomez spent last season alternating with Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, but Klopp has been vocal about his long-term plans for the 21-year-old.

Klopp sees Gomez’s future at centre-back, and with Dejan Lovren in Russia, Joel Matip in recovery and Virgil van Dijk on holiday, Saturday should see him line up in his preferred role.

He shone there when given an opportunity for England, and would have been part of Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad had it not been for an ankle injury that required surgery.

 

Fabinho & Keita’s Introduction

Klopp has confirmed both of his new signings will feature against Chester – providing nothing happens in training beforehand – and supporters will be eagerly awaiting debuts for Fabinho and Naby Keita.

The duo are primed to take up key roles in Klopp’s midfield this season as part of a major overhaul that should give the Reds a bigger chance of success in 2018/19.

They are unlikely to show their best form on Saturday, but their presence alone will be worth tuning in for.

 

Woodburn in Midfield

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 13, 2018: Liverpool's Ben Woodburn during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Like Ward, after being denied a loan move both in the summer and in January Ben Woodburn was perhaps unfairly overlooked by Klopp last term.

The teenager signed a new long-term contract in October, however, with his manager describing him as having “that perfect balance of talent and attitude.”

He was in eye-catching form in midfield last pre-season, and the hope is he can secure a more regular role in the first team this time around.

 

‘Debuts’ for Jones & Camacho

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Wednesday, February 21, 2018: Liverpool's substitute Rafael Camacho celebrates scoring the second goal with team-mate Curtis Jones during the UEFA Youth League Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Drafted into Klopp’s squad for training in February, youngsters Curtis Jones and Rafa Camacho have become firm fixtures at Melwood and this has continued during pre-season.

Both were included in the matchday squad for April’s 0-0 draw with Everton, but they are yet to make their first appearance for the senior side.

This should hopefully change on Saturday, giving supporters a glimpse of things to come from two of the most exciting prospects at the club.

 

Kent, Ojo & Wilson Given Time to Shine

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Wednesday, July 12, 2017: Liverpool's Ryan Kent in action against Tranmere Rovers during a preseason friendly match at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This summer could prove to be a defining one for three of last season’s loanees, with Ryan Kent, Sheyi Ojo and Harry Wilson returning to Melwood determined to prove a point to Klopp.

The trio experienced mixed fortunes in 2017/18, and based on form Wilson is most likely to secure a long-term role, but they should all be given an opportunity at the weekend.

All best out wide, they could be vying for one role in Klopp’s squad for the season ahead, and their performances early on could be pivotal.

 

Goals From Solanke & Origi

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, May 13, 2018: Liverpool's Dominic Solanke during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Brighton & Hove Albion FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With both Danny Ings and Daniel Sturridge set to depart on a permanent basis this summer, Klopp will assess the merits of Dominic Solanke and Divock Origi as understudies to Roberto Firmino.

Origi is more experienced and has already scored 21 goals in 77 games for the Reds, but a misfire on loan at Wolfsburg last season may have seen him fall behind his youthful counterpart.

While an inability to do so in the first friendly of pre-season won’t be fatal, both Origi and Solanke can improve their prospects by scoring at the Swansway Stadium.

 

Hints on Klopp’s System

BERLIN, GERMANY - Saturday, July 29, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp before a preseason friendly match celebrating 125 years of football for Liverpool and Hertha BSC Berlin at the Olympic Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp almost exclusively deployed a 4-3-3 formation last season, and the arrivals of Fabinho and Keita seem tailored to suit this moving forward.

But there is a chance that the manager has different plans for the campaign ahead, either in terms of the system or the individual roles of his players.

While no verdict can be delivered after a 90-minute warmup, there could be signs of Klopp’s intentions for the season on show in Chester.

 

A Vocal Lijnders

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 28, 2017: Liverpool's first-team development coach Pepijn Lijnders during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With Zeljko Buvac conspicuous in his absence at Melwood this week, the returning Pepijn Lijnders has taken up an influential role on the training field and the Dutchman is believed to have taken over as Klopp’s assistant.

Lijnders has led training drills and sessions, with his hands-on approach allowing Klopp to take a backseat as he flexes the tactical nous refined in a half-season with NEC Nijmegen.

His reputation as a coach proceeds him, and Lijnders can make an impact as Klopp’s lieutenant on the touchline on Saturday—starting as he means to go on.

 

A Positive Reception for Karius

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Tuesday, April 10, 2018:Loris Karius of Liverpool celebrates after Roberto Firmino goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg match between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by Peter Powell/Propaganda)

Karius’ productive campaign was brought to a sickening end in Kyiv, with the German’s concussion prompting a nightmare display in the Champions League final.

This has sparked widespread calls for Klopp to sign a replacement, while an ill-advised and poorly timed PR move on Instagram has diminished Karius’ reputation further on the eve of Liverpool’s trip to Cheshire.

But with the 25-year-old currently set to retain his place as No. 1, a positive reception is required, and he can boost his chances with a promising, front-footed outing.

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