The media were left confident that Liverpool are capable of toppling Man City this season following the Reds’ penalty shootout defeat in the Community Shield.
The Reds made their way to the capital to partake in the first of what is expected to be many tussles over silverware against Man City in the 2019/20 season.
While Jurgen Klopp’s side got off to a slow and disjointed start which saw them head into the interval with a one-goal deficit after Raheem Sterling found the net, they emerged from the break as the dominant force.
Joel Matip‘s header from close range late on ensured the Reds’ dominance did not go unrewarded, but Liverpool were forced to rue a myriad of chances to clinch a victory in normal time as Gini Wijnaldum‘s saved effort in the penalty shootout saw City hold out for the win.
Here’s how the media viewed Liverpool’s narrow defeat and the season ahead for Klopp’s side.
Journalists were full of praise for Salah & Firmino as they took little time to hit their stride…
Writing for the Telegraph, Chris Bascombe was impressed with the Brazilian’s condition and match sharpness merely days on from his return from an off-season break:
If Roberto Firmino enjoyed a summer holiday, presumably there was a training pitch next door to his sunbed.
Considering the Brazilian has been in pre-season training less than a week his immediate effervescence bodes well for Klopp.
Similarly, the Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle felt Firmino again showed why he is a key cog in the Reds’ machine, whilst also singling out the “electric” outing from Salah:
Firmino demonstrated clever footwork, pressing and link-up play throughout – nobody can give this team what the Brazilian does – while Salah was electric.
Paul Doyle, for The Guardian, had an alternative view on the matter, however, as whilst piling praise on Firmino he thought Liverpool’s No.11 was “off-colour”:
Roberto Firmino was the only Liverpool player who shone from the start.
Mohamed Salah, by contrast, was off colour: busy and dangerous but wasteful.
It was a sentiment not shared by the Daily’s Mail’s Ian Herbert as he was of the mind that the Egyptian was the clear standout at Wembley and predicted another fruitful season in front of goal:
[Liverpool] paraded the game’s outstanding player in Mohamed Salah.
Salah operated at a level which promised much for the nine months ahead, though his finishing could have been better.
And ESPN’s Melissa Reddy was on the side of showering praise on Salah, as despite failing to find the net he was the dominant force on the field:
He was constantly speeding around the attacking third, shrugging off markers and showing fast feet to get 10 shots away – which was more than City managed in total.
The Reds’ defence was the focus for some members of the media after again failing to keep a clean sheet…
This Is Anfield’s James Nalton felt the Reds’ defence was again off the pace early in proceedings, as they have for much of pre-season, and City took advantage:
Liverpool have not kept a clean sheet in pre-season since their opener against Tranmere Rovers.
The first goal conceded here was a well-worked set-piece by City, but Liverpool reacted like they were still on holiday rather than five days away from the start of the season.
But as was the case with the attack, the defence looked much more impressive in the second period.
For Bascombe, Liverpool’s defensive undoing came as a result of individual lapses rather than a result of the system:
It appears more mental than technical, lapses in concentration their underdoing, but it is no less surprising.
Joe Gomez was preferred over Joel Matip for Virgil van Dijk’s partner on this occasion, perhaps hinting at Klopp’s plans, but I. Doyle found the England international was not overly convincing despite his improvement as the game wore on.
And he also found Trent Alexander-Arnold did not the best afternoon as his “taxing” pre-season continued:
If this was an audition, [Gomez] didn’t overly convince, combining as many jittery moments with good ones during a tough first half although, similar to Liverpool, he improved after the interval.
Yet he wasn’t alone, Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s indifferent summer form continuing with a taxing afternoon.
Reporters were impressed with Liverpool’s improved and utterly dominant display in the second half…
The Evening Standard’s David Lynch lauded Liverpool’s superior fitness levels which saw City struggle to keep pace:
The Reds seemed to get stronger as the minutes wore on in the capital, while their opponents looked to be running through treacle towards the end.
For Nalton, the Reds’ dominance and levels of improvement as the game wore on were made abundantly clear through their efforts on goal:
The team looked much more competitive in general in the second half, and this led to more chances on goal—13 in the second period compared to four in the first.
And for P. Doyle that dominance in the final third and the ability to continuously expose City’s frailties came as a result of Liverpool finding their “fluency”:
But the European champions gradually found fluency and began to expose frailties in City.
[City’s] defensive frailties were being increasingly exposed by Liverpool.
Goal’s Neil Jones, meanwhile, remained bemused as to how Liverpool failed to end as victors within 90 minutes after navigating through a rough opening to the game to dictating play and flexing their quality and fitness levels:
Here, they looked fit, sharp and, after a difficult opening spell, had the measure of their enemy in terms of fitness and quality.
Liverpool had more shots, more corners and more possession. How they didn’t win the game in 90 minutes, only Salah will know.
And despite the defeat, journalists were confident Liverpool remain “the leading challengers” this season…
While the Reds had a plethora of chances to seal the game in their favour, Bascombe remained of the view that the performance will only serve to act as a positive for Klopp’s side as they look to outdo City on multiple fronts this term:
Liverpool can certainly curse their missed opportunities in the second half, but they will be buoyed rather than disheartened as they pushed City in a way few, if any, have achieved over the last two years.
In a contrasting view, Herbert felt that the occasion served as a timely reminder that Liverpool will be the ones chasing Pep Guardiola’s side in the months to come:
The outcome was a reminder, if they really needed it, that Liverpool are the ones with all the running to do in the nine months which lie ahead.
But for Lynch, the performance itself proved City are not “untouchable” and that they can go “toe to toe” with them for the Premier League title:
Jurgen Klopp’s side ended the game having outshot, outpassed, and outfought a side who so many are telling them are untouchable in their status as reigning champions.
Once they shake off the minor disappointment of the result itself, the German’s squad will realise they have once again proven themselves capable of going toe to toe with the best the Premier League has to offer.
A sentiment shared by I.Doyle, who felt when you look beyond the rather lacklustre pre-season campaign, Liverpool are best placed to topple City:
After an unnecessarily troubling pre-season, Jurgen Klopp‘s side posted a significant calling card here at Wembley that, when it comes to competing with City for the top honours, they remain the leading challengers.
Finally, while Jones feels Liverpool will rue their missed opportunity to land another piece of silverware, but while City might have won the battle the war is only just beginning:
They should have won this game, and secured their second trophy in three months. Instead, they were left to reflect on missed chances, fine margins and the lottery of a penalty shootout.
They lost the battle in the end, but the evidence here is that the war between these two sides will continue for some time yet. Don’t miss it!