Liverpool may have suffered defeat in the Community Shield against Manchester City on Sunday, but Jurgen Klopp was encouraged by what he saw from his players ahead of the beginning of the new Premier League season.
Liverpool come out second best in enthralling game but plenty of positives to take
The Reds went behind in the first-half after another lapse in defensive concentration. With Leroy Sane off the pitch receiving treatment, a lofted through ball was enough to pick off Liverpool’s high-line as Raheem Sterling converted a volley from close range. Alisson was unlucky not to keep out the effort, but it was nothing less than Klopp’s side deserved after a shaky opening.
Laboured in their pressing and succumbing possession cheaply in the middle of the park, Liverpool were under the cosh from early on and Sterling’s goal looked like it could open the floodgates. However, a rousing half-time team talk from Klopp resulted in a brilliant turnaround in the second-half.
Much more akin to the Liverpool side we saw last season, the aggressive pressing returned as Manchester City were put under a surge of pressure, unable to get out of their own half and threaten Alisson’s goal. The real turning point came following a counter-attack through Raheem Sterling as the former-Liverpool man squandered a golden chance to extend the lead to 2-0 before The Reds came knocking at the door.
Van Dijk was first to come close, hitting a volley off the underside of the bar before goal-line technology deemed the ball not to have fully crossed Ederson’s goal. However, after further frustrations from Mohamed Salah, Liverpool would eventually get the goal their performance deserved as Joel Matip headed in from Van Dijk’s cross. Two goal-line clearances and two efforts off the woodwork, it was an enthralling contest ultimately decided by penalties, with City winning 5-4 after a Gini Wijnaldum miss.
Speaking after the match, Jurgen Klopp was pleased with his team’s overall performance ahead of Friday’s opener against Norwich. “I’m completely happy about the full performance,” said Klopp. “I said before the game, if you want to be prepared for Man City you have to make a pre-season game against Man City; no team plays like them.”
“You saw that in a few moments in the first half, when they can do what they do. The biggest threat was pretty much the long balls from Bravo in behind, where our last line was not a line. We could have had a better positioning, we changed that for the second-half, which helped us a lot.”
Klopp reflects on second-half turnaround as Reds show fight
“The second half is about will and all that stuff. That’s another thing in pre-season: you fill your body with all this physical information but you are not used to it after four or five weeks that you really can go over that point.”
“We went over that point today, then nobody felt tired anymore and they could really go. I liked that a lot. Football-wise, the second-half was just really, really good, the best way you can play against City. I don’t like the result but I liked the game a lot, so for us it was very, very important.”