First thing I want to point out, Liverpool lost this game 1-1 (5-4) in penalties, watched Manchester City lift the trophy and half heartedly celebrate, yet to me I don’t feel as if we lost that game at all. To me I feel a sense of confidence I haven’t felt about this upcoming season. I have always trusted Klopp in whatever he does, whether that be buying players or not but I couldn’t help but feel that we simply couldn’t compete with City and their loaded squad this year. I don’t know if I should feel shame about that or not but seriously City might have 2 full squads that would make the top six of the Premier League, that’s how good they are. But this game showed me that they are not unbeatable, they do have weak spots. Were City particularly good today? Well no. But were Liverpool full strength and playing at the maximum of their abilities? That’s what gives me confidence, they weren’t perfect and weren’t full strength. I thought that the only way to beat this City team was to be… well, perfect. Today showed that that’s not this case this season. Rival fans will say City are only in preseason and that they weren’t good today because of it, well they’ll fail to mention that Liverpool are in preseason still too and Liverpool didn’t play to their maximum abilities. So to my fellow Reds, don’t look at this game as the perfect ending for a dismal Liverpool preseason, look at it as a confidence boost that tells us that we’re still here and should City slip up and not be perfect, guess what, Liverpool are there.
Finally ending my soliloquy let’s move onto the game shall we. Liverpool got off to a shaky start as their high line wasn’t communicating as well as they can and this was proven by a free kick in the Liverpool defensive zone, Salah found himself in an awkward predicament on whether he should follow Zinchenko or stay obedient in the line. Ultimately choosing the former and keeping him onside ending in a Sterling tap in, Alisson almost performed a miracle save but it crept behind for the first goal of the game 12 minutes in. The rest of the first half was pretty dull besides the three positives, the press, the high line and Roberto Firmino, Mo Salah links. The press was generating problems from the first minute to the last minute, against a usually very tight and obedient City team shows us Reds fans that this press in particular will be a major focal point in how Liverpool play this season. The high line was another positive basically the entire game, although using it means heart attacks 3 or 4 times a game if it’s structured and trusting like tonight it should catch opposing forwards offsides all game long, proven by today’s game. Finally Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah were the positive forces in the Liverpool lineup until Firmino was subbed off in the second half. Firmino was in my opinion the best player for Liverpool in the first half, he did absolutely everything, dribbling, creating chances, getting shots off, being an outlet for passes, tracking back on defense and, making several tackles, I thought Firmino was a fantastic team player as always. Also can’t forget that touch over Zinchenko and half volley, my God if that went in. Although Salah was no slouch himself. Picking the ball up wide and doing what he does best, worrying defenses and getting shots off. Salah created many chances for himself including one rifled off the post, unfortunately he couldn’t find the back of the net but we’ll get back to that. At the end of the first half going into the locker rooms down 1-0 I wasn’t exactly disappointed, I thought that the defense was at times were lazy and that the midfield were simply put, not good. But overall I wasn’t disappointed.
The second half was a whole different animal. Klopp clearly rallied his boys and Liverpool came out with something to prove. Hammering at City all half. Of course it wouldn’t be 2019 Liverpool v. Manchester City without goal line technology and of course a delicate touch volley from Virgil Van Dijk was not given after it ricocheted off the crossbar and down on the goaline. Mo Salah then picked up the clearance and drove at the City defense and rifled another shot off the post which allowed City to escape once again. At this time Klopp had brought on Matip for Trent, who was decent at best, and Naby Keita for Fabinho. Matip coming on pushed Gomez to RB after a very impressive performance next to Virgil at CB. At the time I didn’t agree with Klopp bringing on Matip for Trent, but I guess that’s why he’s manager and I’m sitting at home blogging after the fact. Liverpool won a free kick and lobbed the ball deep back post where Virgil once again was creeping, another delicate touch and a beautiful cross back across goal allowed the giraffe Matip to drive a header down for the equalling goal. It’s hard to believe that Virgil is a CB, his ball control and skills are jaw- dropping, utterly unbelievable player. With the score tied 1-1 after 77 minutes Klopp brought on Shaqiri for Firmino, which made sense because Firmino just got back earlier this week, Adam Lallana for Jordan Henderson and Ox for Origi. Once again confused me as to why we were bringing Lallana on with all the momentum because I thought Klopp had the intentions of playing him as the holding mid. Once again, I was wrong, Lallana was a major boost running around and creating chances with the time he saw on the pitch. I didn’t mention Naby Keita up to this point because the main chance he saw was when Lallana played a beautiful cut back to Keita who fired his shot too close to Bravo, who was excellent all game, Bravo saved it and left Keita hands in head. Overall I thought Keita came on and along with him brought on something that had been missing from the Liverpool midfield. His creativity is second to none in the Liverpool midfield and I truly believe he will have an amazing year this year. With all the momentum Liverpool continued to hammer the City defense and a mixture of Ox and Keita press won the ball back setting up another Mo Salah chance which another good Bravo save kept out. And finally with the 90 minutes up and deep into extra time, Salah found himself one on one with only John Stones and Bravo in front him, a super Stones block on the initial Salah shot sent the ball in the air and onto the head of Salah who chipped it over both players only for Kyle Walker to come out of nowhere and superman clear it off the line. Another unfortunate break for Salah and the Reds which sent the game into penalties. After a full 90 minutes the stat sheet proved Liverpool were the better team with Liverpool taking 17 shots including 9 on target to City’s 8 and 3. Saw Liverpool take control of the possession in the second half against a possession driven team, 53% to Liverpool after 90. And saw Liverpool make 50 more passes than Pep Guardiola’s tiki taka City. Very incredible stats for Klopp’s men, except that the most important one being the score at 1-1.
At this point I really didn’t care about the result so I’ll keep this short, both teams put on a clinic of penalties and Bravo saving Wijnaldum’s penalty saw City win the Community Shield. All in all, Liverpool’s performance was very impressive against the giants that be Manchester City and give ultimate hope to Red nation.
Liverpool open up the 19/20 Premier League season at Anfield against newly promoted Norwich City, I will Catch Ya Then!
My twitter is @LFCeltics