Liverpool put five past Napoli in a convincing pre-season win, just a week before the Premier League season starts.
Liverpool 5-0 Napoli
Pre-Season Friendly (8), Aviva Stadium
August 4, 2018
Goals: Milner 4′, Wijnaldum 9′, Salah 59′, Sturridge 73′, Moreno 77′
A similar welcome greeted him as he took his position between the posts for the start of the match, and it wasn’t long before he was making an impact.
Obviously comfortable on the ball, outfield players will happily involve him in the build-up play. A stark contrast to the nervousness seen in this area in the past.
His first involvement was to ping a pass behind the Napoli defence for Mohamed Salah, and the position it put Liverpool in produced the first goal.
More neat passing followed, with only one chipped pass to the touchline going out of play over the head of Andy Robertson.
He was called upon to do some goalkeeping when Napoli had their first shot on target late in the first half, which he turned behind for a corner.
He made another decent save at his near post in the second, and will be pleased with his day’s work, as will the fans who saw him make his first appearance for Liverpool.
Milner & Midfield Dynamics
While the new duo may seem like shoo-ins for the starting XI, the pair which started alongside Keita here in Dublin made a good case for their inclusion on the opening day of the season—James Milner especially.
With club captain Jordan Henderson returning late following England’s World Cup exploits, vice-captain Milner could wear the armband on the opening day of the season.
His performance here suggested he’s ready to go. He scored the first, lurking on the edge of the area to tuck away Mane’s pull-back, and assisted the second with a cross to Wijnaldum.
His celebrations following both events were non-existent. The model pro knows this is just a friendly and the real work starts next week.
If the injury he picked up following a clash of heads is serious, then he will be a big miss in that opener.
Gomez Cements His Place Alongside Van Dijk?
With just a week to go before the first game, Jurgen Klopp will no doubt have an eye on his starting XI.
The young English defender missed out on a place in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad in order to undergo surgery on his ankle, but the summer break could mean he has the opportunity to make a case for continued first-team inclusion.
Luck has been against Gomez for much of his time at Liverpool so far, but things could finally be going his way.
The Swiss international showed yet again why the club’s recruitment team have tracked him for so long, and why they finally took the opportunity to sign him after his former side, Stoke City, were relegated.
He came on at half-time to replace Firmino, and after receiving some animated instruction from Klopp, he took up the centre-forward position.
He played it as Firmino does, dropping deep to link play, spraying passes long and short, and pressing intensely.
It was his cross from the left which eventually resulted in Salah’s goal, and when the Egyptian was taken off, the new signing slotted in on the right.
This versatility, plus his ideal fit for Klopp’s system, is what made the signing a no-brainer.
It will mean he’ll feature regularly this season from the bench, or start games should one of the front three be unavailable or need a rest.
Dublin Embraces Liverpool
Dubin was awash with red in the days building up to this game as Liverpool fans descended on the city, joining the army of fans already based in the Irish capital.
Despite donning their purple away kit, this was very much a home game away from home for Liverpool, and red shirts filled the stadium to capacity, with 51,512 announced as the official attendance.
You’ll Never Walk Alone was sung with a gusto this arena is used to hearing when the Irish national teams play here, as fans took the opportunity to see the Reds live in their hometown.
At full-time, the squad held a banner for Irish Red Sean Cox who was attacked before the Roma game, then handed out gifts to the fans, taking selfies and signing autographs.
Liverpool will make the short trip back across the Irish sea to prepare for the season proper with a game against Torino on Tuesday, but this was very much a taster for the new players on what to expect at Anfield.