Although the Reds have a potent front line, they are once again giving up far too many goals, making a title challenge unlikely.
Liverpool’s 4-3 friendly loss to Bayern Munich in Singapore on Wednesday cruelly demonstrated the need for defensive reinforcements. The Reds once again shown their offensive prowess, with Cody Gakpo scoring the game’s first goal just two minutes after it began before Virgil van Dijk doubled their lead.
By taking advantage of the large open space between Joel Matip and Trent Alexander-Arnold, Serge Gnabry scored one goal and set up another for Leroy Sane to tie the game for Bayern at the half.
Luis Diaz, a second-half substitute who had been set up by Mohamed Salah, gave Liverpool the lead once more. However, they gave up twice in the final two minutes, with Josip Stanisic tying the score at 3-3 before Frans Kratzig scored a thunderous goal to give Bayern the victory.
In the match at the Singapore National Stadium, where Jurgen Klopp’s squad gave up four goals for the second time in three preseason games, GOAL examines what we learned from the event.
Liverpool’s fantastic offensive possibilities
Liverpool shouldn’t have a problem scoring goals this year. In fact, it wouldn’t be shocking if they challenged Manchester City for the league’s most goals. They have an incredible variety of attacking options, which is highlighted by the fact that only Salah is currently assured to start against Chelsea on Sunday.
After putting on another strong preseason performance today, Gakpo is definitely your best chance to play through the middle. The Dutchman demonstrated his talent by combining with Diogo Jota to set up the game’s first goal and then emphatically finishing with his left foot. With his blend of talent and adaptability, the latter could, of course, either play in the middle or out wide. However, Diaz, who handled his goal admirably, is the more natural winger and would be the majority of supporters’ choice to play on the left flank.
But let’s not forget that up until this moment in their friendly matches, Darwin Nunez had been one of Liverpool’s most intelligent players. He would certainly be the more conventional pick to lead the line given his height and physical presence, but considering his scorching pace, he’s also a tempting option out wide.
Jones is a possibility at No. 6, but not the answer
Because Jordan Henderson and Fabinho both left for Saudi Arabia, Liverpool is in desperate need of a new No. 6. Romeo Lavia is a target for Southampton, who have already turned down two offers for the Belgian. However, it was encouraging to learn that Fluminense’s Andre is being considered as a potential replacement because a defensive midfield specialist is obviously needed.
Curtis Jones has the self-assurance to play the part, as Klopp claimed before the game that he might “have a massive impact in that position.” Curtis Jones is an England Under-21 international. In Singapore, he took the ball several times under pressure and used quick, shrewd moves to escape sticky situations. But since the position in question takes some time to master, Liverpool can’t really afford to have Jones pick up skills on the job.
Van Dijk will enjoy his new position
There were several candidates to replace Henderson as Liverpool’s captain. Van Dijk receiving the armband from Klopp was not entirely unexpected, though. The Dutchman was, in all honesty, a no-brainer. The most important member of the team also serves as the defense’s commander.
He clearly enjoys the responsibility, therefore it was expected that he would score in his first appearance as the team’s new captain. Van Dijk very literally excelled, soaring over the Bayern back line to head in an Andy Robertson corner.
Van Dijk looked like a serious threat every time he moved forward for a set-piece, so Liverpool will be hoping it’s the first of many this season. Even more encouragingly, he performed a number of crucial interventions when people around him appeared to be lost, which further demonstrated his aptitude for the position.
Reds continue to struggle mightily on defence
Liverpool’s defensive issues haven’t just vanished. The Alexander-Arnold puzzle is still a mystery to Klopp and his coaching staff. However, this inverted right-back position is still causing problems on the right side of the backline, especially when Joel Matip is playing. The versatile England international provides so much offensively when he moves into midfield.
The two Bayern goals highlighted the Cameroonian’s many strengths, but he simply lacks the necessary pace and agility to cover for Alexander-Arnold when he is playing more advanced positions.
In the first case, Alexander-Arnold was out of position and was unable to react in time to Gnabry’s most straightforward inward move after receiving a pass from Kim Min-jae. Gnabry then cut inside Matip far too easily before scoring the goal.
The second goal was uncannily identical, but this time Alexander-Arnold wasn’t at fault for getting high up the pitch; after all, that’s what he’s supposed to do. The ball was simply lost by Liverpool at the worst possible time for him and his squad, as Gnabry was once again given free reign to charge at Matip before handing the ball to Sane for an easy goal.
Alexander-Arnold’s acceptance by Liverpool entails a chance, but the question of whether the risk is worthwhile must be raised once more.
Alisson needs to perform even more miracles
Liverpool is therefore very fortunate that Alisson appears to be on track for another successful season full of incredible saves given their persistent defensive shortcomings. Last season, the Reds’ No. 1 was severely let down by his back four numerous times, but Alisson (14 clean sheets) nonetheless finished second only to David de Gea in that category.
Based on this, Liverpool will need the Brazilian to be at his dazzling best once more if they are to stand a chance of returning to the top four. Making a series of remarkable stops in Singapore, he at least appears up to the challenge. Seriously, Liverpool might have given up eight goals if not for Alisson!
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