Article by Mark Mason @MMason00
It still feels like the triumph of Madrid was only just yesterday. However, in reality, Saturday marked the return to Melwood and the start of the new season. Now Madrid and the wonderful triumphs achieved there have to be shelved as we prepare for the arduous journey of the season ahead and a fight for a long-awaited Premier League title.
With pre-season comes pre-season friendlies.We will only be enforced by Liverpool to endure a little more until the Reds leap back into action with the first game against Tranmere on the 11th.
As with every year, preseason will allow Liverpool supporters to see a host of new faces that they rarely see. It will give us a glimpse of any transfers we bring in and the last view of a number of players that we can’t believe still play for us.
However, here are five specific things that I would personally love to see this pre-season.
A Trent and Origi partnership
With the AFCON and Copa America eating up players pre-season. Having a fit and firing forward for the start of the season is vital, especially if he can offer the team something the other forwards cannot. Bobby Firmino at 6 foot offers a decent aerial attacking threat. Equally, Mane and Salah for their size are both good in the air. However, having a strong powerful forward to lead the line and provide a real danger in the air, would add another string to our bow. Solanke in pre-seasons gone by looked as if he could have been that player. Now is the chance of Origi to show that he has developed physically enough to do that job.
If Liverpool could unleash the potential of Origi with his athleticism, they would have not just a backup for Bobby but a real alternative. Origi achieving this will not just depend on him, it will also rely on the quality of the ball that comes in to him. Luckily In Trent Alexander Arnold, Liverpool possess one of the best crosses of the ball not just in the Premier League, but in the world.
Liverpool will most likely play with two teams, each getting 45minutes at the beginning of pre-season. I would love to see Trent and Origi paired up for the same 45 minutes as much as possible.
Wilson in Midfield
This is the most important pre-season of Harry Wilson’s short career. It could easily end up with him being sent on on another loan or being sold. Yet, there is still a chance that the exciting welsh international could save Liverpool a fortune and show why Klopp is correct to be ignoring the possible transfers of players like Fernandes and Ziyech.
I struggle, like manny to see how Wilson will break into the Liverpool team as a winger. He does not have the searing pace that Liverpool thrive on from wide positions. He is not a player to beat a man. However, just like Wilson, Adam Lallana never had either of those qualities and has been a vital member of the squad. Klopp has shown that a fit Lallana is a potent weapon from midfield, linking up attacking talent and providing hard work. Unfortunately for Lallana and reds, he is not that good at staying fit.
Wilson has the potential to be our new fit Adam Lallana. The Welshman has a great eye for goal and arriving late into the box he could offer us the goals from midfield we crave.
Wilson gave us flashes of his ability to do this at Derby. Lampard’s preference for the highly talented Mason Mount meant that Wilson featured mainly from out wide. However, when used in midfield he was able to contribute 5 goals and 2 assists in 14 games. Wilson has the ability to smash a ball in from 30 yards and can take an excellent free kick. These are skills we have lacked since Coutinho left and would help to unlock stubborn defences. Mason mount will probably get the chance to fight for a midfield role back at Chelsea this summer. I hope Wilson gets the same chance at Liverpool.
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Ox to his best
Prior to his injury in the Champions League semi-final against Roma, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain was a vital member of the team. His driving runs from midfield coincided with some of the best form of our front three. Yet,12 months, 97 points and a champions league, make it easy to forget how important a player he was to the side.
Ox’s ability to break away from an opposition midfield meant that he did the best possible thing he could to help our attack. He committed opposition defenders. Leaving, Mane, Salah or Firmino one on one with any defender in the world is a recipe to concede goals. Too often last season, teams were able to double up on Salah and crowd him out of space as there was an extra defender, and a lack of players able to pick up the ball and drive past the opposition. With a midfielder breaking forward Salah will be given the gift of far more space, with this will come goals.
Having Ox prove himself to be fit enough and in form enough to slot back on the right of a three-man midfield is something Liverpool desperately need. If Liverpool can combine that with Keita doing the same from the left, Liverpool’s scarily good attack has the potential to get even better,
The New Sturridge and Moreno
With the contracts of Sturridge and Moreno expiring. Liverpool have two spaces to fill in the squad. Normally this would mean an ageing or young player being brought into the club. Klopp’s seeming reluctance to replace these two squad roles may well be down to a belief that the youth set-up at Liverpool can provide the answers.
Rhian Brewster’s scoring record at all levels is fantastic. It caused teams from around the world to be chasing his signature last season. Liverpool were only able to keep him on the promise of a path to the first team. After recovering from injuries it is time for Brewster to show the Anfield faithful what he can do.
Adam Lewis is a name far less famous than Brewster, however, the local-born left-back has just as good an opportunity to stake a claim on a squad team role. Moreno’s departure leaves a back-up left-back role available. With 6 competitions to play for next season (sorry, the charity shield doesn’t count) there will be a need to rest Robertson. The next few weeks will show whether Lewis is ready to be the man to do this.
Since Klopp has come in we have seen many formations used sporadically to gain a result. However, Liverpool have, since his first season, been a team that generally sets up in a 4-3-3.
At times last year, Liverpool experimented dropping Firmino behind a forward and Shaqiri coming into the side. This allowed us to get that extra attacking player onto the pitch. It was a system that was effective at times, yet Klopp seemed to mistrust it. There was a decrease in the control that our midfield had.
4-2-3-1 was utilised before Fabinho had settled into the team 100%. The growth in stature of the big Brazilian means that it is a system that deserves to be revisited. There is the potential for great benefit from having a fourth attacker on the pitch especially against the more stubborn to break down sides. Liverpool as an attacking side need to keep evolving and offering new attacking problems to sides. 4-2-3-1 offers us the chance to do this.
Article by Mark Mason @MMason00