Wigan Athletic 1 Gilbey 21’
Liverpool 1 Salah 45+1’
I mean, look. It’s preseason, yeah? Early preseason, at that. No one’s expecting magic, here.
Everyone’s practically re-learning how to run. Some of these guys literally just got back from vacation. They’re greasing wheels and working out kinks. This is not Liverpool at their best.
But it’s that very reason why these games are so... meh. They can be hard to watch. (They’re definitely hard to write about.) And when it shakes out as a come-from-behind draw against a team two divisions below us, it’s hard to get too worked up about the whole thing.
So I was, admittedly, only paying half attention in the opening minutes. I figured the game would be something of a pleasant background hum. And then I looked up and saw Mohamed Salah charging into the box and getting a shot off and almost getting a goal. So much for background noise.
This ended up being my entrypoint in the game. I couldn’t be bothered with all the missteps I saw, all the times Ben Woodburn backed himself into a corner, all the times Adam Lallana tried to do a little too much. I couldn’t even be bothered when Alex Gilbey opened the scoring for Wigan Athletic about 20 minutes in. All I cared about was watching Mohamed Salah do stuff.
(And to a lesser extent, Trent Alexander-Arnold. I like him. He’s a nice young boy.)
And yeah, everyone looked a bit off. Philippe Coutinho looked rusty. Roberto Firmino was very obvously fighting through a vacation hangover. Simon Mignolet looked like he needed a nap.
It’s preseason. I’m not expecting much.
Easily the best moment of the night for me was Salah getting that goal right before halftime. Coutinho pounced on a defensive mistake and won the ball outside the box. He laid it off to Firmino, who dragged a couple defenders with him into the box. With the Wigan backline in knots, Bobby Firm shuffled the ball over to Salah, who side-footed the ball into an almost-empty net. Easy like Sunday morning.
It was a lovely ending for both the first half and The Mohamed Salah Show. Our new Egyptian winger didn’t come back for Act II, as Jürgen Klopp swapped out the entire lineup. Don’t get me wrong, I was chuffed to see Daniel Sturridge back and get my first look at Dominic Solanke. But I was having so much fun watching the new guy.
So the second half was... you know, whatever. Liverpool’s attack had some trouble getting going, and the defensive bank was a bit too bendy under pressure. Also, I had hoped that Loris Karius would’ve spent his time as second-choice keeper to develop his decision-making skills; on the strength of his 45 minutes in goal tonight, I have my doubts.
James Milner looked pretty good. Dejan Lovren almost scored a goal. It rained a lot. People got mad at Mark Lawrenson.
The game— which, again, only the second preseason game for the 2017-18 campaign— ended at 1-1. Some of the players looked pretty solid. Others definitely need to put in some more work. Salah looked incredible.
Quality of play and low stakes notwithstanding, I’m just excited to see these boys kicking a ball again.