Indonesia XI 0
Liverpool 2: Coutinho 9', Sterling 87'
Had this been the preseason opener I would be struggling a bit to come up with positives, but after the win against Preston, I'm taking today's laborious and sloppy 2-0 win over the Indonesia XI as a basic example of why preseason can be so valuable. Chance for new faces to get to know one another, for those returning from injury or holiday to get back up to speed, and for all of us to start practicing new and creative ways to whine and moan and insult those in the squad that are underperforming.
So all in all a successful day, I'd say. Here's some bullets.
- Ahead of the match Brendan Rodgers had given eight of his outfield players the mandate of an hour-plus shift, and all came through without any worries or injuries. Jose Enrique and Steven Gerrard were pulled at halftime, but the rest of the starting eleven seemed to make it through the warm Indonesian night with little fuss in terms of fitness.
- Nobody was overwhelmingly impressive, however, and while Philippe Coutinho got the scoring going early, Liverpool couldn't string much of anything together. Luis Alberto matched Coutinho for influence in the attacking third, and the two often swapped positions going forward. Alberto continues to look casual and smooth in possession, and Coutinho impresses nearly every time he's on the ball.
- The Indonesian squad didn't do much in terms of testing Liverpool's back line, but when tested they came through. Simon Mignolet made a wonderful stretching save on an effort from distance and made some good decisions on crosses, looking confident and composed from start to finish. Feeling positive about heading into the season with him as the number one.
- On 65 minutes Rodgers opted for the line change, with Joe Allen and Jack Robinson already having replaced Gerrard and Enrique at the half. As you expect, the fresh faces brought far more energy going forward, led by Raheem Sterling and Jordon Ibe. Ibe's pace to set up Liverpool's second was phenomenal--took two touches to skip past a defender on the break and played a good ball through to Oussama Assaidi, who unselfishly played Sterling into space past the goalkeeper. If Liverpool hang on to both young wingers (sorry Oussama) for a few years, it's going to be mighty fun to watch.
- Fabio Borini continues to struggle, often guilty of trying to do too much. On a day when few impressed, though, it's hard to spend too much time criticizing him. He'll need to do a bit more through the rest of the preseason to work his way into Rodgers' thinking off the bench. Right now he's maybe fifth or sixth choice overall in attack, which can't be what the manager had in mind when he bought him last summer.
Overall, not the most inspired performance from Liverpool, but one that the supporters in Jakarta certainly made the most of. They sang and cheered throughout, offering up one of the more stirring and impassioned renditions of You'll Never Walk Alone in recent memory. More to come from the club as they now travel to Australia, where they're likely to get a warm welcome and hopefully continue to get themselves ready for the start of the Premier League campaign.
Video by MostarLFC