Liverpool started the season preparation on Tuesday evening with two 1-1 draws in two 30-minute games against Wacker Innsbruck and Stuttgart in Austria.
Liverpool 1-1 Wacker Innsbruck
Origi pen 5 ′; Ronivaldo 17 ′
Liverpool 1-1 Stuttgart
Mane 21 ′; Forester 6
After eight days in the Austrian sun – and a few thunderstorms – Liverpool finally began public preparations for the new season when Jürgen Klopp’s men were involved in two 30-minute duels against Whacker Innsbruck and VFB Stuttgart.
When the Reds dusted the cobwebs, what did we learn from the trips?
1. Kaide Gordon – Teenager catches the eye
Kaide Gordon is only 16 years old, but made his first senior game for Klopp’s team and in the first game against Innsbruck.
Signed by Derby County in January, he scored seven goals and three assists in his tenure with Marc Bridge-Wilkinson’s U18 side last season when he made an immediate impression in Kirkby.
A tricky, direct, and confident winger, Gordon’s eagerness to impress was evident from the start as he tried desperately to get the ball and show what he could.
Gordon’s takeover was viewed as a smart business by those in Anfield, and it was here that he showed exactly why it was valued so highly.
His best chance of the game came from a combination on the right, before using footwork to create his own chance, but it was thwarted by a strong wrist from the keeper.
2. A promotion for Trent?
Trent Alexander-Arnold took the captaincy’s armband in the first friendly of the evening, possibly suggesting he could be prepared for an internal promotion this summer.
With Gini Wijnaldum’s departure this summer, Klopp not only needs to find someone to fill the Dutchman’s gap on the field, but also his off-field commitments.
Wijnaldum was one of Klopp’s “four captains” alongside Jordan Henderson, Van Dijk and James Milner.
Liverpool have a slew of options to step into the leader’s ring with players like Andy Robertson and Mohamed Salah, both captains of their country. But allowing Alexander-Arnold to learn from such high-profile figures so early in his career could put him and Liverpool in a perfect position for years to come.
3. Ibous bow
Ibrahima Konate made his first appearance as a Liverpool player in the second of the two games when Liverpool played against Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart.
And although the former RB Leipzig defender didn’t have to defend much, there were little glimpses of what he could offer the Reds in the future.
As expected, Liverpool spent most of the game on their forefoot as they enjoyed long possession times. For Konate, this suited him perfectly as it allowed him to bring the ball out from behind and show off his offensive skills.
He also showed a quick turn that Klopp will undoubtedly benefit from in the coming season as he continues to use a high line of defense for his side.
4. A duo that to do exist…
Ben Davies and Kostas Tsimikas have been with Liverpool for 18 months, but have made zero league starts for the club.
Tsimikas, who was almost the forgotten man in his first season at Anfield Road, impressed many viewers when he wanted to show exactly why he was brought in as Robertson’s deputy a year ago.
Covid and injuries halted the Greek defender’s progress last season but if Tuesday night’s performance was something he will be ready to start his Anfield career.
Tsimikas defended well and, like Robertson, was represented in the last third of the pitch, including a nice assist for the goal from Sadio Mane.
He hasn’t had much to do defensively for Davies but he will be glad to have buried his personal hatchet and put on a Liverpool shirt for the first time.
There was no space for Nat Phillips in any of the squads meanwhile, and the reasons for this are yet to be revealed. This week it was reported that Brighton had identified Phillips as a possible replacement for the seemingly arsenal-bound Ben White.
But the Bolton-born defender watched both games by some of the other names that didn’t make the squad and shattered any immediate questions about his future, at least for now.
5. ‘New’ roles for Ox and Elliott
As in any pre-season, various tactics and roles are implemented and experimented as managers seek to broaden their tactical horizons and gain the upper hand over rival teams.
It was no different here at Klopp, who appointed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Harvey Elliott in two completely new positions.
Oxlade-Chamberlain took on the role of center-forward in the absence of Liverpool’s no.9 Roberto Firmino, and he looked rejuvenated in his new role, having sunk deep in a Bobby-esque manner with the aim of having Mohamed Salah and Mane on both wings to feed .
It remains to be seen whether this is a position that will remain with the former Arsenal man or if it’s just a filler – but Klopp said after the game that it was “an option”.
All in all, it certainly wasn’t a bad audition from Oxlade-Chamberlain.
And also for Liverpool’s teenage sensation Elliott, who found herself next to James Milner and Naby Keita in Liverpool midfield.
Given the skills Elliott possesses, the role was perfect for him, as he was able to act like Phillippe Coutinho from the depths when he positioned himself in the pockets of the German team.
Elliott’s near-term future seems up for debate right now, but after a sensational season at Blackburn Rovers last year, adding another element of versatility to his game will only increase his chances of playing his football at Anfield next season.