On the day, Liverpool were probably the better side against a Manchester City side that’s amassed 198 points the last two seasons. Not finishing at least one of the dozen chances they created in the second half came to bite Liverpool in the end, leaving them to miss out on lifting the totally serious and very real Community Shield 5-4 on penalties. Now join us to examine some of the narratives, tactics, reactions, and questions Liverpool will be dealing with and the fans will be talking about in the aftermath.
Winners and Losers
Big Daddy Joel Matip
One of the biggest questions heading into this season is who is going to be Virgil van Dijk’s preferred partner at the heart of defense. Both Joe Gomez and Joel Matip had good performances against City, but the latter put in a great second half shift against a stellar City attack. It was by no means a definitive showing or anything, but scoring the game tying goal certainly helps Matip’s case to be the starter against Norwich on Friday.
The Attack is Just Fine
A lot of this preseason has been spent worrying about where Liverpool are going to get their goals. Most of the preseason was spent without the likes of Roberto Firmino, Mo Salah, and Sadio Mane, not to mention Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri. That’s a lot of firepower left out of a side. That changed this past week when Salah and Firmino showed up to camp after their offseason breaks. Both of those players were incredible difference makers against City, despite lacking the sharpness to finish their chances. Liverpool did more than enough in the second half to calm any fears that fans might have heading into the season. Mo Salah took 10 shots. City only managed 8. Everything is fine.
Pep Guardiola’s Got No Chill
Imagine getting a yellow card in a preseason friendly because you can’t stop whining to the 4th official. What a weirdo. Absolutely rent free in that shiny dome of his.
Jordan Henderson Ultras
Look, I’m a massive Henderson fan. His move to the #8 position towards the end of last season was pivotal in the march to Liverpool’s 6th European Cup, but today he was poor. Perhaps a midfield three of Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum, and the captain provides a very solid foundation, but it lacks creativity and at times it fell to Hendo to try and bail the team out. I’m pretty sure he had picked out a few passes to Klopp. One area he showed signs of improvements was that he was very aggressive in trying to play the ball forward. That was great to see, even if it didn’t come off much.
What Happens Next
As if there was ever a doubt heading into the 2019-20 Premier League season, it’s going to be a two horse race between Liverpool and Manchester City. Virtually nothing has separated these two sides last season, and if this match is a precursor of what’s to come this season, well, the same can be expected. These are the two best teams in Europe by a country mile. Liverpool didn’t win today, but they take away a lot from this match. First, they’re bloody good at football. They can enter the season with the swagger of being the European Champions. As they should. Secondly, they know how they can improve. Too sloppy on the ball at times. Not clinical enough finishing. Lapses in mental judgement on set pieces. All of those things can be easily addressed ahead of Friday.
Long season ahead. It’s going to be a joy to watch the Reds march on.