Liverpool’s third pre-season match ended in a 0-0 stalemate at League Two side Bury and there were more disappointing performances than positives.
Having won back-to-back fixtures and scored 10 goals in the process in their opening two games, the hope would have been for the Reds to showcase their attacking prowess once more—especially against a side who had conceded 10 in two themselves.
But it didn’t transpire that way as Jurgen Klopp‘s team put in a sluggish and sloppy display, and indeed Bury went closest to scoring.
The 0-0 draw will be a frustration to some—including the fans who watched, in fairness—but there were still a handful of good displays to point to.
And, of course, it’s a pre-season match: fitness-building is the more important issue at hand.
Staking a claim
Once again there were a couple of younger players who showed Klopp what they have to offer, with Curtis Jones the pick of the bunch.
An inventive and positive first-half display from the teenager saw him roam the left channel, between attacking midfield and wider when in possession.
Most of the Reds’ good work came when he was involved and looked to either go one-on-one with his man, or else quickly combine with his fellow attackers.
Tactically and technically, Jones has impressed this pre-season, lowly though the opposition has been.
Elsewhere it was reasonably slim pickings, but Naby Keita showed a handful of good moments in the second half.
His ability to win the ball, switch gears and quickly run at the opposition defence caused problems more than once and he looked most likely to provide a route to goal after the break.
Joe Gomez was also a decent performer, this time taking to the field at right-back.
Several times he opened space down the flank with an overlap and driving run, while defensively he was untested.
Shockers from the seniors
Unfortunately that was about it for the genuinely good displays, and there were far more who seemed either tired, lacking a first touch or simply didn’t have the toolkit to break down the fourth-tier side.
Divock Origi, once again, was a passenger in the game. He was stationed wide left for much of the first 45, but came central as the half went on and the Reds dominated the ball.
His one big chance saw him go one-on-one with the keeper, but a shot was easily saved when a square pass might have yielded a tap-in for a team-mate.
Fellow striker Dominic Solanke was also relatively anonymous after the break, seeing one shot blocked on the line and offering little threat or link-up play otherwise.
Several of the Reds’ senior squad have been labelled ‘inconsistent’ in the past, perhaps few more so than Alberto Moreno.
The left-back has had a pretty good last 12 months, rarely letting the team down when he was first-choice at the start of last season and playing a squad role thereafter.
Against Bury, however, his touch was well off, his passing was woeful and he almost cost a goal when he sold Loris Karius short with a backpass.
Outside of the seniors, Ben Woodburn had the least-encouraging half of football: misplaced passes all over and one great chance to score spurned.
It’s pre-season, though, so all performances have to weighed in that regard, both the positives and negatives.
Tiredness, rustiness, lacking match sharpness: whatever the reason, the displays simply won’t be as polished as in-season and that has to be accepted.
As such, it was no surprise to see a few of the more talented players in the team put in games which were encouraging one moment, frustrating the next.
Virgil van Dijk‘s first game back followed this pattern as he read the game well and looked in good shape, but was ponderous in possession more than once and missed a couple of challenges when stepping out of the back line.
Daniel Sturridge looked a cut above with his touch and vision early on, but spurned a couple of opportunities to quickly pass and create shooting chances.
A note, too, for goalkeeper Kamil Grabara: he played the final half-hour of the match and made a couple of commanding aerial claims, showing good confidence and reading of the match.
That was about all he had to do, but it will do his confidence good regardless.
Overall it was certainly 90 minutes of more negatives than positives for the Reds on the pitch, but no injuries, a couple of returning faces and another step toward full fitness made it a worthwhile endeavour nonetheless.