Liverpool 2-0 Crystal Palace: Three things we learned about Nunez, Elliott and Oxlade-Chamberlain in pre-season friendly
Posted by  badge Boss on Jul 16
Liverpool’ impressed in the first win of their pre-season campaign. (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Liverpool beat fellow Premier League side in a friendly in Singapore on Wednesday afternoon as ’s men got off the mark for the summer.

The Reds were comprehensively beaten 4-0 by in Thailand on Tuesday but had more reason to be pleased today, completely dominating the warm-up match against Patrick Vieira’s lacklustre Eagles.

Klopp selected a starting eleven made up of senior players for this fixture, and it didn’t take long for Liverpool to open the scoring, with captain Jordan Henderson arriving late inside the penalty area to sweep a controlled finish into the far corner after just 12 minutes.

In the second-half Klopp changed his entire side, but the Reds’ momentum didn’t stop there. Within just over a minute of the re-start, Mohamed Salah played a smart one-two with Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right and hit a shot which Vicente Guaita spilled over the goal-line via a deflection off Joachim Andersen.

From there the game fizzled out, with both sides changing their elevens once again in the final quarter, with a much young set of players finishing the match.

So, what did we learn from a match played in front of a capacity crowd at the Singapore National Stadium?

Harvey Elliott has a big role to play

The only goal of the first-half may have been scored by Henderson, but it was really all about Harvey Elliott.

The 19-year-old bought himself a yard of space with a sharp turn just inside the right-hand side of the penalty, before cutting the ball back for the unmarked Henderson to shoot and score.

Before he was substituted at the break, Elliott raced clear onto a through ball but miscued his shot into the stands behind the goal.

Harvey Elliott was arguably Liverpool’s most impressive player in Singapore. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)

Klopp’s system relies primarily on functional midfielders who who shift the ball wide to the full-backs in order for them to then create goalscoring opportunities, but Elliott offers a level of ingenuity and technique on the ball in attacking positions which make a direct threat of his own.

The former Fulham midfielder started last season as first choice on the right side of the midfield three before suffering a serious ankle injury away at Leeds United, and his start to pre-season suggests he could have a similarly important role to play at the start of the upcoming campaign.

Injury could curtail Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s chances

Another player who impressed during the first-half was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The 28-year-old was arguably a little out of position starting on the right of the front three alongside Roberto Firmino and Luis Diaz, but was linking up well with those around him and looking to make runs over the shoulder of Palace defenders before a hamstring injury meant he was removed shortly before half-time.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s Liverpool career has never fully recovered since the injury he suffered against AS Roma in 2018. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

The club has yet to reveal a prognosis but the former Arsenal man is likely to miss a portion of pre-season now, putting him behind schedule in comparison with his team-mates and making it far less likely he will be around the starting eleven for the opening few fixtures.

Oxlade-Chamberlain didn’t make a single Liverpool appearance after February last season, with Klopp simply leaving him on the bench or out of squads entirely as the Reds challenged for a quadruple until the end of May.

His chances of reintegrating into the first-team setup may have been dealt a significant blow if he is going to absent for a prolonged period.

Darwin Nunez will need time to adapt to Liverpool, and vice-versa

Liverpool have not regularly played with a traditional striker in their side at any point since Klopp took over as manager seven years ago.

But with Darwin Nunez arriving from Benfica in order to replace the departed Sadio Mane, the possibility exists that the Reds could go with an out-and-out number nine for a majority of matches this season.

The Uruguayan came on at half-time and aside from seeing a shot saved by Guaita and missing his kick after cut-back was deflected just in front of him, the 22-year-old was very quiet.

Darwin Nunez is a new kind of player for Liverpool’s squad to work with. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Just like everyone else, he is only playing in pre-season and is building up his fitness ahead of the campaign.

What was interesting was how he was often making runs his team-mates didn’t perceive, and he was missing passes that colleagues thought were a cert.

A number of times the likes of Mohamed Salah tried to play a short ball into him in the hopes of receiving it back in more space, but Nunez was instead looking to be played in behind in the first place and so possession was lost because two players were on different wavelengths.

That is nobody’s fault and not a problem at all at this stage. But it does go to show that Liverpool’s squad is used to the central forward coming deep to pick up the ball, whereas right now Nunez wants to operate much closer to the goal.

Both will need to be accustomed to one another more over time in order to dovetail together.

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