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Thai All Stars 0, Liverpool 4: Reds off to an Encouraging Start

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Liverpool put on an encouraging performance in their first match of the 2015-16 pre-season, with Jordan Henderson, Joao Carlos Teixeira, and Danny Ings in particular standing out.

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Thai All Stars 0
Liverpool 4 Markovic 3’, Sakho 42’, Lallana 52’, Origi 86'

With no major summer tournament involving the European federations this year, the new season is coming up a little quicker than usual, and that means an early start to pre-season for Liverpool. A Thai Select XI provided the nominal competition in what was largely an exercise in gaining fitness in sweltering conditions, and while the football itself wasn’t always great, it was a chance for fans to get a look at Liverpool again.

It was also a chance to see a few new signings for the first time. Adam Bogdan started in goal in the first half while Joe Gomez and Danny Ings also saw action from kickoff, and though none were involved in the buildup, it didn’t take long for the first half team to open things. With Lambert occupying the Thai defence centrally, Joao Carlos Teixeira nipped in and threaded a pass to Lazar Markovic, who rounded the ‘keeper and scored.

Many Liverpool fans will have noticed before then that Liverpool had lined up in a diamond, with Ings and Lambert up top and Markovic in the ten role behind them. Lucas, meanwhile, was anchoring midfield with youngsters Jordan Rossiter and Teixeira flanking. The opposition may not have been great, but on the strength of the opening goal, it was a promising return to the formation that served Liverpool so well in 2013-14.

And it was an especially promising showing for Teixeira and Ings. Nothing quite came off in the end for Ings, but his movement and many of his touches bordered on stunning, and if he can bring his end product up to a similar level over pre-season, Liverpool might already have solved their striker problem. Teixeira, meanwhile, showed sublime touch and vision, and in a less crowded midfield would be a lock to stick with the first team.

Joe Gomez at right back also showed promise—and a great deal of industry as he bustled up and down the flank in the Bangkok heat—while Markovic looked comfortable in the ten role and Lucas and Jordan Rossiter were solid in midfield. About the only negatives were Lambert, who looked lethargic and off the pace, and Andre Wisdom, who appeared at times horribly uncomfortable asked to play out on the left.

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In the second, Brendan Rodgers sent out a more experienced side and went with a more conventional 4-3-3, with new signing James Milner joining captain Jordan Henderson in midfield ahead of Joe Allen. There was also a first appearance for Nathaniel Clyne at right back and Divock Origi up front, where he was flanked by Adam Lallana and Jordon Ibe as the rain began to fall and, for a time at least, the pitch sped up.

Similar to in the first, Liverpool started quickly, with Jordan Henderson the creative force playing in Adam Lallana—with a chipped rabona pass, no less—for an early marker. Moments later, he nearly found Origi as the young striker flew past the Thai defense. It was a dominating performance for the new captain, who showed both flair and drive throughout the half and looked as close as anyone to being fully match fit.

There was also quality on display from Ibe and Lallana as they drifted dangerously off the flanks, with Lallana offering more of a goal threat and Ibe’s footwork particularly noteworthy. The new signings all had moments, too—Origi, Milner, and Clyne—though none stood out to the degree some of Liverpool’s returning players did in either half. Relatively unknown Joe Maguire, meanwhile, looked an improvement at left back.

On the other hand, Joe Allen and Martin Skrtel more than any other Liverpool players showed clear signs of rust, as the two combined to give the Thais a handful of opportunities over the final 20 minutes of the match, though by that point the increasingly waterlogged pitch wasn’t doing anybody any favours. The increasingly agrarian play that resulted, though, did see Origi score his first before the end, heading home off a corner.

The oppositions and—towards the end especially—surface might not have been great. On the whole, though, it was an encouraging start to pre-season for Liverpool, with many of the players fans would have hoped to see do well standing out and the difficult conditions a boon for fitness. Now Liverpool head to Brisbane for their next friendly, against the A-League’s Roar, on Friday.