While most football fans were probably busy watching England take on Sweden in the quarter-finals of some international tournament called the World Cup, Liverpool’s sat down to take in the Reds’ first pre-season match of the 2018-19 campaign against mighty Chester FC of the National League North (otherwise known as the division six divisions below the Premier League).
Jurgen Klopp rolled out two different lineups for the two halves, both featuring a mixture of first team players and youth looking to impress the boss enough to feature in the gruelling campaign to come. Notably, newcomer midfielders Naby Keïta and Fabinho anchored each of the two lineups.
#LFCPreSeason team news vs @ChesterFC...@_fabinhotavares and Naby Keïta will make their debuts for the Reds.— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 7, 2018
Klopp on today's team and interval changes ➡️ https://t.co/iRZMRS0Jia pic.twitter.com/Cr0vaPVFSA
The first half started off as one would expect, with 20 minutes or so of the players finding their way into the match. The most exciting part of the early part of the half was trying to tell the difference between Ben Woodburn and Harry Wilson, who both had the same hair cut and wore squad numbers in the high 50s. Nevertheless, Wilson’s the one with the tattoo sleeve on his right arm.
You could see how the team wanted to build up their attack through the middle of the pitch with Curtis Jones and Ben Woodburn on the ball, trying to find through balls to the forward line. On the other hand, Dominic Solanke had a rough time early on, whiffing on a shot in the box.
Then there was new signing Fabinho, who nearly produced two goals in the first half, the first coming in the 27th as he collected a clearance at the top of the box and blasted it off the woodwork and the second coming from a sweet ball over the top to Divock Origi, who was unable to get a shot off. Origi will likely feel disappointed with his performance, failing to do anything noteworthy in the attack.
The opening goal game in the 37th minute from a more direct bit of play. Joe Gomez found a streaking Captain Alberto Moreno down the left flank. Moreno was unable to find the back of the net, but Harry Wilson collected the rebound and dinked it past the keeper. That goal definitely woke up the sleepy Reds, as the attack intensified as the half wore on. The second goal coming right before half time in the 44th. Curtis Jones found Harry Wilson with a beautiful through ball that Wilson slotted past the keeper with ease.
With a completely changed side and formation from the first half, the Reds wasted no time in getting the scoring started. In the 47th minute Sheyi Ojo won a penalty after being spotted with a brilliant ball from Daniel Sturridge. Second half captain James Milner stepped up to the spot and calmly scored.
Sturridge would find himself on the scoresheet for the first time in the 54th minute. Naby Keita, who was playing as the deeper of the two central midfielders, spotted Chester FC’s defender being lazy on the ball and created a turnover at the end of the penalty area. Sturridge collected the ball and scored. Two minutes later, Ryan Kent scored a rocket of a goal into the far corner.
Similar to Fabinho in the first half, Keita had a really good showing in his first time suiting up in a Liverpool kit. Not having to do much defensively, he was able to glide around the middle of the pitch with ease. He nearly scored in the 69th minute after combining with Danny Ings at the top of the box, but his shot was a little off.
Ings in turn would find himself on the score sheet in the 79th minute after a very patient spell of possession from the Reds. Sturridge collected a pass in the midfield and calmly played in Milner, who laid off the ball for Ings to one-time it home. The Reds would finish off the match with another goal from Daniel Sturridge in the 88th minute.
Jurgen Klopp and his side still have a lot to work on in the preseason. Not many of the questions coming into the match have definitive answers after just 90 minutes, but I think there are some things to keep an eye on.
Origi failed to impress against the Reds’ easiest opponents, while Harry Wilson found the net twice after a lively 45 minutes from the Welshman. Ben Woodburn struggled to shine, while Curtis Jones looked the better of the two No. 8s in the first half. Daniel Sturridge played well, but I’m not going to get excited just yet. And Nathaniel Clyne looks to be fully fit and ready to challenge Trent Alexander-Arnold for the right back spot. All and all, a bright performance.
Up the preseason Reds.