Preseason matches against lower league teams are rarely a way to accurately gauge chances for any club, including Liverpool, who enjoyed an easy season opener, with all four new signings – Simon Mignolet, Kolo Toure, Luis Alberto and Iago Aspas making their unofficial debuts for the club.
Aspas even managed to score a goal from the club – an impressive outside-the-box curler to set the score at 4-0 in the Bill Shankly Shield over Preston North End.
Despite already adding four players likely to do a lot of playing next season, with Mignolet and Kolo Toure looking bored out of their minds for most of the match with nothing to do while Luis Alberto and Aspas had their chances during the second half, Brendan Rodgers, avoiding questions at the end of the match, is still looking for players in the transfer market, possibly gearing up for the departure of Luis Suarez.
Suarez was one of the key players missing, getting an extended rest thanks to playing in the Confederations Cup, hoping his exit is resolved before it’s time for him to get back to training. Steven Gerrard is healthy, but watched from the stands after undergoing shoulder operation at the end of last season. Daniel Sturridge, with plenty of expectations for goals next season, didn’t play due to an ankle injury that hasn’t left him yet.
But it doesn’t really matter when Philippe Coutinho is on the pitch. The Brazilian impressed and surprised many with his ability, passing, dribbling and shooting coming in during the January transfer window. This season, more attention an eyes will be on him, and it’ll be up to him to show he’s one of the brightest young talents in the Premier League and possibly Europe, only needing a team to give him the right kind of chance.
Some players are going to be quite unhappy when the season unfolds. Raheem Sterling found himself in the lineup for the first half of last season but slowly faded away from memory, maybe burning out too soon. He didn’t take part of the Under-21 European Championship due to injury, probably relieved he wasn’t part of the colossal failure. Jordon Ibe, the 17-year old striker, also scored (Sterling did as well) in the win, but it’s hard seeing him getting too many minutes.
Fabio Borini, unlike England, had an excellent tournament in Israel back in June, and he hopes his second season at Anfield will be about playing on the pitch, instead of recovering from injuries, playing in only 13 matches, scoring one goal.
Liverpool have a deep squad, but not as talented as others when it comes to their best players. Maybe that opinion of them will be changed as the season gets closer, but all the pretty debut goals from Spanish forwards won’t matter until we see them showing up in a full squad (hopefully, for them, with Suarez) against Stoke City on August 17.