For the second season running the Reds suffered defeat on penalties at Wembley to miss out on the chance of more silverware.
It was a good workout for the Reds overall, and here is all the key analysis from the media assessments on the season opener.
Journalists played down the significance of the loss but saw concerns in the manner of the defeat…
But there wasn’t quite such encouragement from this latest Community Shield disappointment for the Reds.
Rather than point to a profitable future, frustrating defeat to Arsenal instead underlined some of the issues that have been nagging away ever since Liverpool ended their 30-year wait to be crowned champions of England.
There is certainly no need to panic but the air of invincibility Liverpool had throughout most of the 2019-20 league campaign has worn off in recent months following a patch of two defeats and a draw in seven games at the end of the season.
Doyle was unimpressed by how the Reds failed to conjure up the spark needed to overcome Arsenal’s “simple” plan with a lineup that was still good enough to win:
But the worry is how this defeat happened. Indeed, for the second time in six weeks, Klopp’s side struggled to cope with the straightforward tactics of an Arsenal side who, on paper, appeared there for the taking.
Sure, Liverpool had some key players missing. However, their starting line-up was far stronger than the Gunners, and it’s for such absences a squad is constructed.
Melissa Reddy, of the Independent, took a more measured outlook, stating this was only an exercise to improve fitness and that nothing should be read into the result:
Both managers will be fully aware that too much will be read into a game that ultimately means very little beyond elevating fitness levels against elite opponents.
Reporters were underwhelmed by Liverpool’s performance, citing a lack of intensity and midfield creativity as key issues…
Liverpool seemed to play in bursts on Saturday. James Milner was typically industrious from the opening whistle and Andy Robertson also looked sharp from the get-go, but the pair’s team-mates alternated between applying themselves and plodding along.
That’s justifiable given the physical and emotional expenditure of last season, but it doesn’t necessarily bode well for the incoming one.
Writing for Goal.com, Neil Jones saw genuine cause for concern with the midfield performance, noting how a lack of creativity was the Reds’ main problem:
Glorified friendly or not, Liverpool’s display left plenty to be desired.
The Premier League champions were underwhelming, downright poor at times, especially in the opening 45 minutes. They stuttered and they plodded, frustrated by Arsenal’s deep-lying defence and undone by the Gunners’ swiftness on the counter.
The modern Liverpool will not function properly playing at less than the intensity that Klopp demands, although even this side were capable of taking the game to penalties – coming back after a major tactical switch just before the hour from the German coach.
Wallace later highlighted Mo Salah as particularly ineffective and was surprised at how Klopp’s team failed to show enough threat to win the game:
Mohamed Salah will rarely be less influential than he was in this game and although the basic principles of Jurgen Klopp’s title-winning season was in evidence with 60 per cent of the possession, the aggression in his players’ press was never enough to unsettle Arsenal’s three centre-halves.
There was a lack of slickness though the endeavour was honest and there was a sense of peak fitness coming.
Members of the media discussed Klopp’s tactical switches and the increasing need for reinforcements…
Bringing on Keita and Minamino, two of Liverpool‘s more creative types, was a neon sign that a lack of creativity from central areas was obvious to Klopp. Liverpool looked a much better prospect when the cavalry arrived and Wijnaldum reverted to type in the Reds’ midfield.
It is not hard to see what Thiago would bring. Improving upon a team which has taken 196 of the last 228 points available is not easy, but the former Barcelona man surely fits the bill.
His touch, his vision, his passing range and his ability to resist the press mark him out as a truly world-class performer. Liverpool have good midfielders, underrated midfielders, excellent midfielders in fact, but none of them do what he does.
The sight of Fabinho playing the final half-hour alongside Virgil van Dijk further underlined the need for a new centre-back with Dejan Lovren departed, and the drive of Jordan Henderson was sorely missed in an engine room devoid of tempo early on.
More positively, the watching journalists were impressed by the impacts of Minamino & Naby Keita…
Minamino was dropping deep and playing as a kind of roving No.10 at times.
Liverpool have perhaps lacked this kind of threat when teams defend deep, the player who moves in less predictable patterns, who enjoys finding space between the compressed defensive lines.
The Mirror’s Sam Meade raised an interesting point in suggesting that Minamino has been a victim of his own versatility, which has delayed his settling in process:
The January signing started on the bench having failed to establish himself under Jurgen Klopp thus far.
His case is perhaps hindered – rather than enhanced – by his versatility but when Liverpool needed a goal he came up with the goods.
Keita, meanwhile, injected some life, some energy and some risk into a hitherto lifeless midfield. The Guinean has looked sharp for months, and looks a certainty to start when the league campaign kicks off in less than a fortnight’s time.
Finally, Meade reflected on a tough afternoon for Neco Williams, but rightly noted how the emerging right-back will be better for it going forward:
He replaced Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is struggling with a knock, in the starting XI but was given one of the hardest possible tests. Williams was tasked with stopping Aubameyang who started on the left for Arsenal.
The forward was afforded too much room by the Liverpool youngster for his goal and generally got the better of him. Williams will be better for the experience, but one he won’t want to relive anytime soon.