Liverpool’s pre-season is well underway as they prepare to bounce back from their miserable title defence in 2021/22.
It’s certainly been a disjointed one – strewn with half-time substitutes and 30-minute mini-friendlies – and the chaos continued on Thursday with a hammer-and-tong 4-3 defeat to Bundesliga side Hertha BSC.
But what did we learn from their latest outing? And is their season over before a competitive ball has been kicked?
We’ve broken it down for everything you need to know.
Guess who just got back today?
Them wild-eyed boys that’d been away
Haven’t changed, had much to say
But man, I still think them cats are crazy
Oh yeah, it’s been a long nine months or so since Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez were last on the pitch together. But here they emerged for the final 20 minutes, reunited at last and ready to take charge.
…and then Stefan Jovetic made a complete mockery of the pair of them to slot in Hertha’s fourth goal.
Okay, maybe they’ll take some time to get back up to speed. But it’s still very, very good to have them back.
One thing we weren’t expecting to see in pre-season was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain being deployed as a central striker. But in the absence of any real alternative to Roberto Firmino, that’s the role he has played for the most part.
The Ox replaced Takumi Minamino at half-time and mostly played at the centre of the front three, and popped up with a proper striker’s finish late on when he hammered in a half-volley.
Could this be something we see more of when the competitive action kicks off?
We’re all used to seeing Naby Keita turn up in pre-season and this year it’s been no different.
The diminutive Guinean was one of the best players on the park here, and his hand in Liverpool’s second goal – winning the ball back with a crunching challenge before feeding in Mohamed Salah – was straight out of the top drawer.
The move was finished off by Takumi Minamino, another player who will be hoping to make his mark this season.
Much has been made of where Harvey Elliott fits into Liverpool‘s future, with the consensus being that the 18-year-old will eventually replace either Salah or Sadio Mane.
That may not be the future Klopp sees for the immensely talented youngster, however. Here, he started him in the midfield three alongside Keita and James Milner, and he gave as good as he got.
He may be a little on the slight side to fit in there long-term, but he has plenty of time to develop in front of him. If he is adapted to playing in two positions, it bodes well for the role he could play in the season ahead.
Okay, final note. Please don’t freak out about the final result.
Pre-season friendlies are all about getting minutes on the pitch and building fitness. Here, Klopp fielded six different centre-backs and used 23 players in total – despite a number of his key stars, such as Alisson, Thiago and Jordan Henderson, still being on holiday.
That was always going to lead to a messy, disjointed performance, and while Klopp does want to win these games – of course he does – it doesn’t really matter which way the result swings.