Liverpool kicked-off the 2020/21 campaign with defeat in the Community Shield courtesy of a 5-4 penalty shootout defeat against Arsenal at Wembley.
Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool
Community Shield, Wembley
August 29, 2020
Goals: Minamino 73′; Aubameyang 12’
Name – Alisson (out of 10) – 6
A quiet afternoon for the Brazilian came down to penalties, but he was unable to make himself a hero.
Disappointing on the pens as he didn’t get close to saving one.
Did make a good save at 1-0 to deny Eddie Nketiah, which was much more important to see.
Neco Williams – 5
This was a valuable learning experience for the emerging right-back, who faced a tough task against an athletic Arsenal left side clearly targeting his inexperience.
By no means directly at fault for Aubameyang’s opener, but could have done a little more to close the space and show the Arsenal man on the outside.
Not the attacking influence of Trent, but Williams’ crossing was the best part of his game – one perfectly picking out James Milner who should have headed home.
Joe Gomez – 6
A steady game from Gomez, who perhaps suffered the biggest drop off in form at the back end of last season.
Dominant in the air for the most part and got better in open play as the match wore on, with his use of the ball much more crisp after the break.
Moved to right-back and was solid for the most part, but was caught sleeping late on as Willock nipped in and, thankfully, headed wide.
Virgil van Dijk – 7
By now we’ve come to expect a flawless performance every game from Van Dijk and he was in solid form, if not quite at his best level.
Plenty of nice trademark switches throughout and marshalled the defensive line well, with typical composure and game intelligence on show.
Doesn’t quite look at his sharpest yet, understandably, so this will provide a useful workout.
Andy Robertson – 8 – Man of the Match
Had a much more comfortable outing than his fellow full-back as Arsenal focussed their attacks down Liverpool’s right.
Didn’t give anything away defending his flank when Arsenal attempted it though, and made one crucial block on a free-kick as David Luiz lurked dangerously.
Robertson was the Reds’ best source of creativity – in the first-half especially – supplying several great crosses and also a superb pass to Sadio Mane who should have finished.
Looking good ahead of the season starting.
Fabinho – 7
Struggled in the 2-2 draw against Salzburg last time out, but this was a better outing from the Brazilian.
Sharper to spot danger and more forceful in the challenge throughout, while his use of the ball was simple but more reliable and purposeful.
Moved to centre-back among Klopp’s first changes – showing perhaps he will be fourth choice this season – and did a tidy job mopping up well several times. Great penalty.
Gini Wijnaldum – 5
Started despite the ongoing uncertainty around his Anfield future, but this was not an outing to remember for the Dutchman if this is one of his last in a red shirt.
Practically invisible in the first-half, in which he did little to provide help for Neco when he was constantly getting overrun, and gave the ball away several times.
Better after the break as the whole team improved.
James Milner – 6
A surprise inclusion ahead of Naby Keita, the vice-captain was in solid if unspectacular form as part of the workman-like midfield trio.
Busy and tenacious as always in the midfield scrap, and tried to drive the Reds on taking responsibility on the ball in and around the box.
Should have perhaps scored a clear-cut header from Williams’ excellent cross moments before Arsenal opened the scoring.
Mohamed Salah – 5
A very quiet game for the Egyptian, who was barely noticeable for large parts of the game.
Offered very little in build-up play, and clearly misses not having Trent’s supply to find him in advanced areas.
Scored his pen, which was reassuring to see.
Sadio Mane – 6
The Senegalese was always a threat and alive in the game down the left, but he strangely lacked productivity throughout.
Should have scored one-on-one but muddled his feet, though he did almost score an incredible goal late on to win it.
Nothing to be concerned about, but would have been nice to see him take one of those chances.
Roberto Firmino – 6
Rarely seen in the first half but much more alive after the break.
Firmino benefited from Klopp’s switch to 4-2-3-1, as his influence increased and he enjoyed more space and runners around him which allowed him to show signs of his class.
Tidy when involved but not involved enough for a player so influential to Liverpool’s game.
Came on, got straight on the ball and started orchestrating Liverpool’s play with the creativity that was missing before his introduction.
The Reds looked much more cohesive once he was introduced which showed his growing influence and importance.
Enjoyed a moment to remember scoring his first Reds goal to make it 1-1 with a really tidy finish after showing some good anticipation.
The goal capped off a really strong impact from the Japan international, who was clever and sharp in all his work and is now really settling in nicely.
Rifled home his penalty, showing how his confidence is gradually building.
Helped keep the Reds on the front foot as he made some nice forward runs late on and slotted his penalty well.
On to take a penalty, but smashed the bar instead of the net, which was a shame given his electric form this pre-season.
Subs not used: Adrian, Koumetio, Tsimikas, Grujic, Elliott
Jurgen Klopp – 7
Went with a strong team to ensure the main players took further steps towards reaching full fitness and sharpness ahead of the season starting in two weeks’ time.
Will have been disappointed to see his team so off the pace and disjointed in a flat first-half performance.
Clearly got into his players at half-time as the Reds improved with more intensity and purpose in their play as Liverpool totally dominated the entire second half.
Switching to 4-2-3-1- with Minamino on the left and Keita adding spark centrally – worked especially nicely as the Japanese equalised and the Reds suffocated the Gunners – something to consider going forward.