Which Players Is Pre-Season Most Important For This Summer?
Though it may seem like a daft question, pondering over who this year’s pre-season is most important for is something that has to be done.
A lot of fans shrug off the team’s activities prior to the season, deeming it as nothing more than friendly matches of no interest. However, laced in between the mediocrity of opponents and odd timings of matches, there’s obvious importance. Following international breaks, whereby most players spend weeks, if not months, apart, it’s a chance to get back together and re-bond since the last time they played together.
The last time the Liverpool squad was together they played Sydney FC and were accompanied by legends Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Daniel Agger and Steve McMannaman. They ran out three nil winners with Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno and Roberto Firmino finding the net. It goes without saying that the former’s pre-season is perhaps the most important of his career.
Sturridge is without doubt Liverpool’s best striker, but thanks to another injury plagued season he struggled to make an impact yet again. The forward’s involvement in matches were mostly from the bench, whereby he’d usually come on and spark life into Liverpool. He started seven matches in the Premier League over the course of the 2016/17 season, and came off the bench six times, scoring three goals. The thing is with Studge, is that it seems whenever he has a prolonged period on the side lines, he comes back and doesn’t necessarily look like he’s missed a beat.
A lot of players spend time out, and then return to a rough patch, similar to what Coutinho endured before he regained his form at home to Everton. The 27-year-old English striker, however, comes back looking sharp. The reason why this is significant is because even without a run of games under his belt he can be devastating in front of goal, which means we can salivate at the idea of him having a decent run of games during pre-season, which will hopefully see him in contention to challenge Roberto Firmino up top. Despite this there’s no certainty that he’ll be wearing a red jersey next season. Even if he goes, for the sake of his career we should hope he has a good spell before the season starts.
Danny Ings is in the same boat, sort of. Obviously Danny is nowhere near as gifted as his fellow striker, though once again that is down to him not being able to showcase his ability properly. He’s been out of the side for what seems like years now but is expected to return this summer. He’s effectively starting fresh at LFC, meaning he has a huge opportunity to push his way into the squad. The same applies to Joe Gomez, but it’s most likely the defender will be sent out on loan.
Unfortunately for the Englishman he’d be in a team that features the attacking threat of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Phillipe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and new addition Mo Salah. This means that he probably won’t get the chance to even appear out of position in order to play. Snapping at Danny’s heels is a plethora of young attacking power, too, as U20 World Cup winners Sheyi Ojo, Dominic Solanke and Ovie Ejaria are joined by Ben Woodburn and Harry Wilson who are all keen to make a name for themselves.
Ojo and Solanke seem the most promising, as the former runs fast than yer Da to the pub and the latter won the Golden Ball at this year’s U20 World Cup. Woodburn holds the club record of youngest ever goal scorer, which was previously held by Michael Owen (Judas), who went on to win the Ballon D’or… No pressure Ben.
However, out of the youngsters at Klopp’s disposal Trent Alexandre-Arnold will most likely be the one to feature most prominently, as he looks to continue as understudy to Nathaniel Clyne at right-back. Trent enjoyed a decent campaign in 16/17, with his most memorable performance coming at home to Manchester United. It was by no means a sparkling display, but one that covered himself in glory thanks to composure on a huge stage. Furthermore, as a local lad he has the undivided support from supporters.
The final player to hope has an uninterrupted and smooth pre-season is our skipper, Jordon Henderson. Former Reds player and boss Graeme Souness told the official Liverpool Football Club website: “In the playing sense they’ve missed him greatly. “You’re not always bossing the game—doesn’t matter what team you are, you’re not always in charge of the game—and he’s really good at making [his opponent] go into areas and make passes they don’t want to. “As well as that, I think he’s improved with his own technique—he can open the play up both short and long now, and he’s a major influence. “Arguably, he might have been the first on the teamsheet when he was firing on all cylinders.”
This is probably true, though unfortunately the skipper has also suffered from injuries due to the incurable condition plantar fasciitis in his heel. Reports suggest he’ll be fit and in the squad come the beginning of pre-season, leading the team out again, which we can only hope will carry on into the season.
Article by Mark McGowan (@MarkMcGowan15)