Celtic 1: Balde 12'
- We saw about three or four different versions of Liverpool in the first half--on the front foot early, pinned back as Celtic took the lead, creative and energetic in responding, and then flat for the rest of the half. In short, pretty much what we've become accustomed to over the past few seasons. The bright spots were very bright without finishing off the chances that were created, while the wobbles were punished with the efficiency that Liverpool can't seem to capture with any sort of consistency.
- Andre Wisdom is still a very bright central defensive prospect, but today was a far cry from what he's capable of. He got turned badly for Balde's goal and made a number of other errors, underlining the fact that he's not the man for now. What's encouraging is that he managed to make adjustments in-game, and while he won't likely be pleased overall, this will be one that hopefully helps him grow.
- Lots of people saw this as the WELCOME TO BRITAIN moment for Iago Aspas, and I guess that can be a thing given how easily he seemed to be jostled off the ball. But he was also a victim of a lack of direct support, with Philippe Coutinho--who wasn't near his best today either--on the left and Stewart Downing bright in spots on the right but generally underwhelming.
- The midfield other than Lucas didn't have a great day, with Joe Allen failing to replicate his earlier impressive displays and Steven Gerrard having easily his worst showing of the preseason. Execution is one thing, but more concerning was the type of disinterest and lack of force from the captain. He needs to provide more or be replaced, Liverpool legend or not. Against this type of side Liverpool need energy and commitment, which Lucas and Allen provided, but Gerrard was not nearly good enough.
- Kolo Toure was solid again at the back and showed good ambition on set pieces in attack, just narrowly offside on the goal that wasn't, and Glen Johnson was improved, but Jose Enrique was again wildly inconsistent. Promising at times and maddening at others, he isn't setting many minds at ease with his preseason. I thought Simon Mignolet was impressive, though, and there's not much he could have done on the goal.
- Liverpool's subs ranged from okay to overwhelmingly positive, with Henderson spending most of his time on the left as Coutinho moved centrally, Jordon Ibe proving an upgrade in intent after replacing Downing, and Daniel Sturridge looking impressive after replacing Aspas. Sturridge and Coutinho's linkup flourished, although Coutinho's off-day meant the pairing wasn't as fruitful as it could have been.
Sad that the preseason ends on such a down note after it had been so positive in so many regards--early summer signing flourished, the club's supporters in Asia and Australia turned out en masse, and the squad's fitness and performances looked much improved from last season. Maybe today means more than those because it's against better opposition, because it's closer to the Premier League opener, or just because it's more fun to complain than it is to feel optimistic.
Whatever it means, it's over, and now there's less than a week for the squad to get ready for Stoke. Here we go.