Following defeat in Denmark to Brøndby, next up for Liverpool was a 2-1 win over Preston North End, with goals courtesy of Suso and Kristoph Peterson.
Mirroring the weather we were subjected to in the north west, the first half was a pretty dull affair where no real quality was on show for the supporters who were present at Deepdale, as expected so early in preseason. Present in the starting line ups for the first time was summer signings Rickie Lambert and Emre Can, the former looking to get into peak shape before his fellow World Cup team mates return from their holidays, as was Fabio Borini, who is subject to a £14m bid from Sunderland.
It was the former Bayer Leverkusen man who looked like he was out to impress his new fans, showing his composure after Martin Skrtel’s poor pass left him to be pressured by one of Simon Grayson’s men, only to deal with the situation coolly. Looking strong and tidy on the ball, the Reds faithful were given a small example of what the 20 year old will be doing in the near future, but Brendan Rodgers’ bad luck with injuries so far continues, with Can joining Tiago Ilori in the physio room when he had to come off for Jordan Ibe around the 20th minute mark. However, fears were played down as the decision to take him off was described as a precaution.
The home side continued to pressure, and it was nearly rewarded, it was them who had the first real attempt of the game six minutes in when Brad Jones was forced into a save from Joe Garner’s shot after some sloppy control from Lucas Leiva. Another Brazilian would also lose control of the ball in a dangerous area, as Philippe Coutinho gifted it to Garner, but nothing came from it.
There wasn’t a great deal of inventiveness from Liverpool in the first 45 minutes, with the Preston defence only allowing them to create half chances, if that.
Some nice build up play involving Coutinho found it’s way to Lambert just inside the box whose pass found Ibe, but the 18 year old lacked composure in front of goal and blasted it well over. The former Southampton man would be involved again as Borini found some space down the left hand side, but the Italian couldn’t tee up his strike partner as the final ball was slightly behind him.
There would be a goal just on the stroke of half time as Liverpool would concede from a corner – Where have we heard that one before?
To add insult to injury it would come via ex-Manchester United youngster, Josh Brownhill, who had the simple task of tapping in the rebound after Garner’s elaborate yet effective overhead kick was saved by Jones and landed at the Warrington native’s feet.
Half time saw the entire Preston eleven change, along with Jack Robinson and Suso coming on for Martin Kelly and Lambert respectively.
Despite the switches, the speed of the game didn’t really rise but we did see the man who spent last season at Almeria get involved heavily early on, cutting onto his left peg from the right only to see his shot dragged wide, followed by another shot saved ten minutes later.
More changes as the away sides remaining starting XI made way for the youngsters, including Jordan Rossiter, Lloyd Jones, Kristoph Peterson, followed by Jose Enrique returning from a lengthy spell out with Robinson making way a few minutes later.
This would be where the tempo would be amped up as youthful energy and enthusiasm took over and it wasn’t long before Liverpool were in front with two goals coming three minutes apart, Ibe acting as the architect in both. A dribble from the left of the pitch towards goal would result in the ball rolling to the feet of Suso just outside the area, before the Spaniard took a touch and curled it into the far post, and then some more good work as the former Wycombe Wanderers attacker played a ball to the unmarked Peterson, and the Swede no mistake of putting it past the helpess Thorsten Stuckmann, via a slight deflection.
Victory over a very resolute opposition will be the perfect boost as Rodgers and the team prepare to head to America, with AS Roma at Fenway Park next up, and some of the young players such as Ibe have given their manager something to think about as he gets his full squad back in the next few days. It was also worth noting that despite their attendance, Ian Ayre and co. looked a bit antisocial when the camera zoomed in on them, however, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing at this time of the year.