Napoli 0 - Liverpool 5
Liverpool: Milner 4’, Wijnaldum 9’, Salah 58’, Sturridge 73’, Moreno 77’
The high flying preseason Reds continued their march to the tune of five goals against Napoli this evening in Dublin, Ireland. After a grueling week of preseason training in Evain, France one would understand if Liverpool were to look a bit sluggish today, but any doubts about fitness and sharpness were laid to rest early, and often. The Reds were far and away the better side tonight against Napoli, who are not slouches.
The scoring started before fans could even get settled into the match. In the 4th minute Sadio Mane turned on a dime on the edge of the six yard box to find a late arriving James Milner who blasted it past the keeper to put Liverpool up 1-0. The attack did not relent after the first goal. Just 5 minutes later Gini Wijnaldum headed home a well taken corner from Milner to make the score 2-0 in favor of the Reds.
Liverpool entered the dressing room at half time feeling as if they could’ve scored five in the first half. Roberto Firmino—who returned from his post World Cup break on Monday—wrongly had a goal disallowed by the referee. He was flagged offside, but the replay clearly shows that a Napoli defender makes a play on the ball before Firmino collects it. A goal for Firmino would’ve capped off a lively first 45 minutes for the Liverpool number 9. I think supporters can but any worries they may have had regarding his sharpness to rest.
The attack in the first half looked as good as it has all preseason. The movement of the “front four” of Keïta, Mané, Salah, and Firmino was unstoppable at times for Napoli.
The second half started with Shaqiri replacing Firmino. Conventional wisdom would’ve thought that there’d be a slight change in formation with this substitution, possibly having Salah go through the middle, but Jürgen Klopp opted to actually have Shaqiri play as a fluid false nine. It was an interesting move that ended up paying dividends because Shaqiri was active the entire half, and his involvement with Salah and Mané was very bright before those two were subbed off.
Liverpool’s third goal came in the 58th minute from a beautiful end-to-end build up that started with the acclaimed distribution from Alisson and was finished off by calm left footed shot from Mo Salah after he collected a back post cross from Shaqiri.
Shortly after Liverpool’s third was the arrival of the Daniel Sturridge portion of the evening. Danny was everything and everywhere after coming on in the 62nd minute. His movement and positioning were great. If he does a bit better on his first two shots, he could’ve bagged a hat trick. Third times the charm for Sturridge, as he gets on the end of a through ball from Shaqiri to put the reds up 4-0 in the 73rd.
Sturridge was also involved in Liverpool’s fifth and final goal as he collected the ball inside his own half and pinged a 60-yard, Xabi Alonso-like long ball to a streaking Alberto Moreno who takes a well placed shot with his left foot.
Look, we’re all thinking about it, so we might as well address it now. The question has been starring us in the face all preseason, so let’s do our best to answer it right now. What if Daniel Sturridge is back? I’ll level with you — I think he is, at least in some capacity. He looks fit. He looks sharp. He looks like he has it. But what is it? We’re probably never going to have old Daniel Sturridge back, and that’s okay. I’ve made my peace with it, and so should you. But I think this Daniel Sturridge looks like he can contribute something to this Liverpool season, and I think it’s time to start putting some faith in him to do so. Please don’t get hurt, Danny.
Up The Daniel Sturridge Reds.