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6 things noticed from Liverpool’s pre-season opener – fitness focus & Nunez glimpse

Liverpool fielded three different XIs in their opening pre-season game against Man United and while the scoreline may make headlines elsewhere, we know that it’s not the important metric.

Liverpool 0-4 Man United

Pre-Season Friendly (1), Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok

July 12, 2022

Goals: Sancho 12′, Fred 30′, Martial 33′, Pellistri 77′


 

No sign of 4-2-3-1…yet

BANGKOK, THAILAND - Tuesday, July 12, 2022: Liverpool's Luis Díaz during the Bangkok Century Cup pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at the Rajamangala National Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Tactical evolution occurs each and every season and Klopp recently hinted at a formation change thanks to the versatility he has throughout the squad.

“We can play a different system as well, where we might only need two midfielders,” Klopp said. “All these guys [midfielders] can play as a No. 10 in the new system.”

That “new system” is expected to be 4-2-3-1, a favourite for Klopp during his time with Borussia Dortmund and one we’ve seen on occasion at Liverpool, but we didn’t see it against Man United.

Not a complete surprise just eight days into pre-season and only three days after the international players returned, but it is one we expect to see sooner rather than later.

The signing of Darwin Nunez opened the door to the change as a more traditional forward and it negates the need to secure that next-generation midfielder this summer.

 

Are you feeling dizzy?

BANGKOK, THAILAND - Tuesday, July 12, 2022: Liverpool's Curtis Jones during the Bangkok Century Cup pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at the Rajamangala National Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Reds Whites, gave off a psychedelic vibe with their new away kit and if it hurt your eyes a little bit, you were not alone.

More pertinently, what is the deal with the mix of lower case and upper case letters on the back? A crime against fashion if there ever was one!

The, mostly, all-white look has made its return then, although its dizzying design on the front did not quite have the anticipated mesmeric effect on Man United.

The kit, of course, is not at the top of the priority list, nowhere near it, but it is going to grow on us, right?

 

Fitness name of the game with 3 x 30

BANGKOK, THAILAND - Tuesday, July 12, 2022: Liverpool players line-up for a team group photograph before the Bangkok Century Cup pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at the Rajamangala National Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s all about getting minutes in the legs with fitness the early priority, don’t forget Liverpool only returned for pre-season eight days ago, and some players less than that.

And with a 37-man squad, minus Diogo Jota for precaution, available to Klopp it was three different XIs playing 30 minutes apiece – thank goodness they didn’t put a poor official through announcing them!

  • 1. Alisson; Mabaya, Phillips, Gomez, Chambers; Henderson, Morton, Elliott, Carvalho, Diaz, Firmino
  • 2. Alisson (Adrian); Frauendorf, Matip, R.Williams, Tsimikas; Bajcetic, Clarkson, Milner; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Clark
  • 3. Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago, Keita; Salah, Hill Nunez

A mix of youth and experience in each, it proved another valuable session in conditions different to that experienced back at home, the scoreboard really isn’t that important.

There were definitely some who have seen their first touch and sharpness return slower than others but this is what these games are for, it’s totally normal.

We’ll soon see the minutes increase for many but with training sessions preceding games, it cannot be stressed enough that these games are fitness-focused.

 

From Fulham to Liverpool

BANGKOK, THAILAND - Tuesday, July 12, 2022: Liverpool's Fábio Carvalho during the Bangkok Century Cup pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at the Rajamangala National Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Fabio Carvalho‘s move to Liverpool has seen him reunite with Harvey Elliott, who he played alongside with Fulham in the youth setup, an exciting young duo to keep our eyes on.

The duo were members of the first XI to take the pitch and it was the speed at which they found their touch and forward drive that caught the eye throughout their 30 minutes.

Notably, Carvalho was deployed on the left of midfield and Elliott on the right-wing, a first, brief, look at a pairing we could see a lot more of over the next few years.

They looked sharp for this juncture in pre-season, full of forward thrust and with a desire to see the ball moved on quickly – all positive signs.

Carvalho struck the upright and linked well with Luis Diaz, who was impressive in his own right, and showed enough to leave you wanting more. Don’t think we’ll be waiting long for his first goal!

 

Bright prospects

BANGKOK, THAILAND - Tuesday, July 12, 2022: Liverpool's Isaac Mabaya (L) and Manchester United's Luke Shaw during the Bangkok Century Cup pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at the Rajamangala National Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This time of the year is an exciting one for a number of reasons, none more so than having a closer look at those looking to break out off the academy and into the first team.

Klopp named 11 academy players in his 37-man travelling squad and eight featured in Bangkok, Tyler Morton, who shone in the eight, and Leighton Clarkson two of the more familiar faces.

Stefan Bajcetic, Melkamu Frauendorf, Tom Hill, Bobby Clark, Isaac Mabaya and Luke Chambers were also handed their chances, the latter two of whom showed the potential at full-back.

Chambers, on the left, showed off his defensive qualities and awareness while Mabaya’s attacking intent was what caught the eye on the right.

For all, this summer comes as a valuable chance to develop alongside world-class players and under a world-class manager and while minutes will be a highlight for them, the entire experience will only serve them well for this season and beyond.

 

Find the pass, find Nunez

BANGKOK, THAILAND - Monday, July 11, 2022: Liverpool's new signing Darwin Núñez during a training session at the Rajamangala National Stadium on day two of the club's Asia Tour ahead of a friendly match against Manchester United FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A first outing for Nunez came as part of the third and final XI in the last 30 minutes, and the impression he left was that the opposition are going to be run ragged.

Cutting through the middle, running off the shoulder or on the inside, Nunez always looks to be on the move and as he gels with his new teammates, it’s going to be beautiful to witness.

Mo Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Tom Hill all had chances to find him but understandable first game scratchiness didn’t quite see the passes come off but there are promising signs there!

But back to that point of a 4-2-3-1 system, will we see him deployed as the lone striker soon?

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