Liverpool completed their first full 90 minutes of pre-season on Friday and picked up a low-key 1-0 win against Bundesliga side Mainz.
Liverpool 1-0 Mainz
Pre-Season Friendly (3), Austria
July 23, 2021
Goals: Killian OG 85′
1. Norwich quartet on show?
The back four to start the fixture was possibly the same one we’ll see against Norwich on the opening day of the season – barring any injuries between now and then, of course.
Knowing the Scot he could be fit and ready to go, but Klopp might want a little caution considering how much he played last term.
And, in the centre, look forward to a Matip-Konate partnership.
With the other duo still on the mend and questions over the futures of Williams and Phillips, it’s probable Klopp will pair up Ibou and Joel with regularity in the remaining fixtures.
Worth keeping an eye on which side they each feature, given Konate started left here but has habitually been seen as coming in to play on the right as a long-term Virgil partner.
2. Keita back to the top of his LFC cycle
Our No.8 has had a bit of a habit since signing for the Reds: show what he’s capable of, dominate a few games and help the Reds play well, look as though he’s about to make himself a regular starter…and then suffer an injury, leaving him sidelined and having to start over.
Pre-season 2021 sees him arcing toward the top of that cycle, showing his great movement and touch on the turn, hinting at being a game-changer in Red.
Can he finally break the pattern which comes after it? Can he change supporters’ minds, repay Jurgen’s faith and stay fit and available to start?
Chances are, there’s at least one midfield spot up for grabs to start the new season – more showings like this one and he’ll be in the running to claim it.
3. Fringe players not staking a claim
On the other hand, and while we have to temper this point with a nod to double sessions, training intensity and the fact absolutely nothing about the 45 minutes they each got matters, there were a few players who failed to shine.
And with them being not just out of the regular starters, but not even among Jurgen’s go-to sub options, this was about as far from a rousing reminder of their talents as was possible.
Divock Origi made one decent sprint down the left, but otherwise was typically lethargic and offered no clever movement off the ball.
His only moment in the box saw him fall to ground far too easily. Gets a pre-assist for the ball bouncing off him to Owen Beck, mind.
Taki Minamino barely got himself involved. Neco Williams was troubled at right-back.
Klopp won’t be rushing to fit them into his plans, even if buyers don’t come knocking.
4. The youngsters who thrived
One of the usual positives of pre-season is seeing which youngsters impress; not to overly build them up and expect a Michael Owen-esque breakout campaign from them, but to highlight the talent pushing for involvement.
Here, two or three furthered their claims for summer involvement, with forward Kaide Gordon again hinting at his intelligence in the final third.
Beck got his second assist of the summer from left-back and Leighton Clarkson was heavily involved in midfield, albeit often defensively and looking to close down.
Gordon rolled in a would-be first goal for the seniors with a really cool finish, only for Curtis Jones to be flagged offside in the build-up.
5. Ahead of schedule or all on track
Point worth making: usually, the Reds’ second pre-season match is against the likes of Oldham, Fleetwood or Tranmere – a third-tier side, basically, rather than a top-flight Bundesliga team.
As such, with the team not firing on all cylinders yet, there’s little reason to suspect the Reds should be swatting them aside.
The usual pre-season notes also apply: nobody picked up any injuries, a win is a win and next time out we can expect a few players to potentially start upping their minutes.
Hertha Berlin on Thursday is the upcoming test and the signs of sharpness already seen from the likes of Mane, Salah, Tsimikas and Oxlade-Chamberlain in brief-but-enticing flashes might just be a little more consistent by then.