Daniel Sturridge remains Liverpool’s leading goalscorer this preseason after finding the back of the net in the second half of a dominant 3-1 victory over Torino writes @sam0007ster.
Jürgen Klopp’s Reds go into the new season in fine fettle with Firmino and Wijnaldum accompanying Sturridge on the scoresheet.
The Reds have been scintillating this pre-season, losing just one of eight fixtures, including an emphatic 4-1 demolition of Jose Mourinho’s Manchester Utd in front of more than 100,000. Liverpool’s attacking prowess was on display yet again in front of a packed home support.
New signings Alisson Becker, Fabinho and Naby Keïta all made their full home debuts, while Xherdan Shaqiri had to settle for a place on the bench.
The major concern before kick-off was the fitness of centre-half Joe Gomez who was omitted from the squad altogether. James Pearce, of the Liverpool Echo, claimed it was only a “minor issue”. Youngster Nat Phillips was consequently handed an unlikely starting berth.
Liverpool started on the front foot with a high press, and predictably, had the majority of the ball but failed to muster anything of note in the opening ten minutes.
But soon enough Liverpool came alive, as Salah picked up a loose ball outside the Torino penalty area and played in Mane who was adjudged to have been fouled in the area by Bremer. Fabinho, on his Anfield bow, took the spot kick but fired wide.
It wouldn’t matter in the end. After some fine skill from Salah, the Egyptian found Firmino who finished off a slick move by firing the ball, via a deflection, into the top right corner of Sirigu’s net.
The Reds continued to pile on the pressure and a couple of minutes after Alexander-Arnold’s long-range effort was denied, Wijnaldum was cool enough to slot home from close range after a good ball from Phillips and tidy work from Firmino – 2-0 in a little over twenty minutes.
It wasn’t all plain sailing, however. On the half-hour mark, Belotti halved the deficit. De Silverstri found himself in enough space to clip a cleverly weighted ball to the back post towards the Italian who gave Alisson no chance with a thunderous header at the Kop end.
The subs came on at the break. Andy Robertson, Danny Ings, Marko Grujic, Curtis Jones, Daniel Sturridge, Xherdan Shaqiri and Adam Lallana all came on. Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Phillips and Fabinho were the only survivors from the first-half.
After a scrappy restart, Sturridge found himself with enough space in the box to turn and unleash a low shot which Sirigu could only parry away.
Shaqiri, like he has been throughout pre-season, was again lively. On 62 minutes, the Swiss disguised a neat pass in front of an onrushing Alexander-Arnold who chipped a ball across the box into Ings whose effort was cleared off the line.
Alisson, who was a spectator for the majority, received a typically well-spirited Anfield ovation when he was replaced by Loris Karius. The German was also given a warm reception.
With only a matter of minutes to play Liverpool’s top-scorer in pre-season – Sturridge – was on the scoresheet again. His close-range header, which rounded off a 3-1 victory, owed much to a delightful cross from Shaqiri who continues to impress.
The Reds were positive and assertive throughout, and while opponents continue to cause problems here and there, Liverpool’s front-line is a match for anyone and everyone. To boot, Sturridge looks as if he’s back to his old self and Shaqiri looks a snip at £13 million.
Only five days remain until Liverpool’s Premier League curtain-raiser versus West Ham. However, the injuries to senior centre-backs Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip, and with Dejan Lovren only recently returning to training following the World Cup, mean Gomez’s “minor issue” is certainly a cause for concern.
Klopp’s Liverpool march into the new season with confidence and assurance. Pre-season could hardly have gone any better. It starts all over again on Sunday, 13:30 UK time.
The Liverpool lineup in full: Alisson (GK), Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil Van Dijk, Nathaniel Phillips, Alberto Moreno, Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum, Naby Keïta, Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah.
Torino: Salvatore Sirigu (GK), Armando Izzo, Nicolas N’Koulou, Gleison Bremer Silva Nascimento, Alejandro Berenguer Remiro, Daniele Baselli, Tomas Rincon, Soualiho Meite, Lorenzo De Silvestri, Andrea Belotti, Iago Falque.
Up the Reds.