Liverpool surged past Napoli in a convincing 5-0 win on their penultimate game of pre-season, sparking fresh optimism for the season ahead.
The Premier League kicks off in a weeks time and the Reds look fired up for it, delivering a high intensity, high energy game that saw James Milner, Gini Wijnaldum, Mo Salah Daniel Sturridge and Alberto Moreno on the scoresheet.
Here are the observations from the match.
Alisson impresses with accurate delivery
It was the moment all Liverpool fans have been waiting for; the club’s new No.1 took to the field, making his first appearance since signing from AS Roma this summer. The Brazilian didn’t take long to settle into his new surroundings, impressing with a visual confidence in possession that saw him heavily involved in the build-up play.
Where Karius and Mignolet have struggled to impress, often causing fans to jump out of their seats with fear or hide behind the sofa due to sheer nerves, Alisson was as composed as they come, playing a key hand in James Milner’s opener. Pinging the ball out to the right-hand side and behind the Napoli defence for Mohamed Salah to run onto, Liverpool’s exhilarating attack were given the time and space to carve out their first goal of the evening.
He delivered in between the sticks too, getting an important touch after Napoli had their first shot on target in the first forty-five. From the resulting corner, Alisson was on hand to comfortably bring the ball into his arms, giving Liverpool the security from set-pieces we’ve not seen in a long, long time.
If this was a sign of what’s to come from Alisson, he’ll be a beaming success at Anfield. Capable of playing out the back with confidence, he adds another dimension to Klopp’s counter-attacking system, allowing Liverpool to get straight at the opposition defence with fast transitional play. A welcome sight to all, his calming figure in goal makes everything feel far more assured.
Falling in love with Sturridge all over again
Everyone thought Daniel Sturridge was down and out at Liverpool this summer, with the striker shipped out on loan to West Brom having failed to make a name for himself under Jurgen Klopp. Fast forward to the present and things couldn’t be more different; Sturridge has looked like a man possessed during pre-season, delivering the ruthless finishing we’ve all come to expect from him while dropping deeper to play a bigger hand in the build-up.
It was much the same against Napoli, with Sturridge involving himself all over the pitch, showing slick movement to race in behind the defence before dropping deep to collect the ball and link with Naby Keita et al. Bagging another goal to take his tally to five for the summer, Sturridge now finds himself as the second-choice striker at the club heading into the new season – a position few would’ve envisaged just a few months ago.
To top it off, he delivered a sumptuous ball to the feet of Alberto Moreno for the fifth goal of the evening, dropping into his own half before picking out the Spaniard on the left-hand side. The finish was equal to the play before it, reflecting a brilliant afternoon for Klopp’s men.
We really are falling in love with Sturridge all over again. Should he maintain his fitness and form, he’ll be one hell of a weapon for the Reds this season.
Shaqiri shows his versatility
Having signed for a small fee of £13.5million, Shaqiri has already endeared himself to fans after a stunning bicycle kick effort against Manchester United on his debut. The game against Napoli showed more of what he will offer Liverpool heading into the new season, operating first in a centre-forward role before moving out to the right flank.
In the middle, he showed plenty of signs he could be a serious option for Klopp should Firmino pick up an injury, coming deep to collect possession before spraying passes back and forth with his teammates. Pin-point crossing ability makes him a great option out wide too – a position that saw Divock Origi sent through on goal before Sturridge converted from the rebound.
Such strong versatility coupled with the strength and skill we’ve seen since he made the move to Merseyside, Shaqiri looks a great coup at £13.5million. Expect to see plenty of him.
Joe Gomez to start Liverpool’s opener?
With just one pre-season game remaining, Klopp will be wanting to get his defence prepared ahead of the new campaign. Thus, the back-four that started in Dublin could well be the one we see on the opening day against The Hammers. That would give Joe Gomez the chance to impress alongside Virgil van Dijk with Dejan Lovren still yet to return to the club after his World Cup involvement.
Add to that Klavan’s hamstring injury and Matip’s latest issue and the Englishman is the front-runner for a starting spot.
Gomez has suffered his fair share of injuries since joining from Charlton but now, given minutes in his preferred position at the heart of the defence, he could well have the opportunity to show Klopp just what he’s made of.
Curtis Jones continues to impress
If you’d never seen Curtis Jones play before, you’d hardly believe he was just a 17-year-old kid. Enjoying a brilliant pre-season campaign, he’s shown plenty of raw ability from midfield; confident and composed in possession, his eye for a pass has added a new creative spark to Liverpool’s attack.
With Liverpool’s pursuit of Nabil Fekir failing to come to fruition, Curtis Jones could well notch some minutes this season and there’s little reason to suggest he won’t be up to the task. Albeit only a cameo performance against Napoli, he’s the latest player to come out the Liverpool academy with a real buzz and energy about him.