Degen Carragher San Jose Agger
Benayoun Mascherano Lucas Babel
Gulasci for Cavalieri 46’
Riera for Babel 46’
Insua for San Jose 46’
Kuyt for Benayoun 61’
Torres for Voronin 61’
Plessis for Mascherano 61’
Pacheco for Lucas 61’
Nemeth for Ngog 61’
Spearing for Degen 61’
Kelly for Carragher 61’
Reina for Gulasci 78’
Alonso for Agger 78’
Dossena for Riera 78’
Nemeth 73’ 83’
Bit different than the first three friendlies, eh? So much for struggling for goals.
Still, it seems to me that typical match report wouldn’t accomplish much. Preseason’s not about results; it’s about the tactics, fitness, and individual ideas. So I reckon a run-down of the good (the Dalglish), the bad (the Diao), and the confusing (the Diouf) would be more helpful. Unsurprisingly given the scoreline, there was a lot more Dalglish than either Diao or Diouf.
Goals, goals, goals: It got a bit out of hand there at the end. The first half line-up struggled to break through, with the play similar to the previous three matches. But Voronin opened the scoring on the stroke of halftime with a deflected shot from distance squirming under the keeper, and the second half was a completely different story, with Kuyt at the center of much of it. The second and third goals were especially gorgeous. First, Mascherano found Riera at the back post with a great cross, and the Spaniard chested down perfectly to blast past Sunny. 20 minutes later, Kuyt intercepted as only he can, stormed down the field, and laid it on a plate for Nemeth. Workrate and intelligence that sum up the Dutchman perfectly. The fourth and fifth were also made by Kuyt, teeing up Torres and then Nemeth. The fifth was especially heartening as it was easier to blast at goal, but Kuyt still found a way to create an assist.
Dirk Kuyt: The above paragraph highlights his contribution more than enough – unselfish, diligent, and with the capacity for excellence. I'd like to remind that only five players tallied more assists in the league last season. And he could have had six today. I couldn’t be happier with his establishment on the right.
The Defense: Absolutely stifling throughout, especially in the first half, and ably assisted by the central midfielders, especially Mascherano and Lucas early on. Singapore had next to no possession or chances.
Agger on the left: I think this is the first time the Dane’s played at left back. A recurring suggestion on various Internet forums, I don’t expect it to be a regular occurrence (because he’s far better at center back), but he didn’t look out of place either.
Other standouts: Benayoun kept up his torrid pace from the end of last season. Ngog increasingly grew into the game, and held the ball up quite well. Nemeth was in the right place at the right time twice, and demonstrated that fox-in-the-box instinct Liverpool’s lacked since Fowler (yes, and Owen to a lesser extent).
Alonso on the field: Don't ever leave us.
Set plays: Consistently awful throughout. The few free kicks went nowhere, and corners were utterly pants no matter who (Lucas, Voronin, Babel, Pacheco) took them.
The Usual Scapegoats: I will try not to kill Degen every time he steps on the field, especially in preseason, but I haven’t been impressed by a single thing he’s done in a Liverpool shirt. Not one moment. Voronin overplayed pretty much everything, but still chipped in with a goal. And Plessis muffed a couple of tackles, although he spent most of the second half in an unusual position (central defense), so he’s got an excuse.
Overcomplicated giveaways in final third: Voronin was the most frequent offender, which is par for the course when he plays, but every attacker was guilty at some point in the first half.
Pacheco as a CM: I’m not saying he played badly. Not by any stretch. It was just surprising. He sat quite deep and tried to orchestrate play, even after Alonso came on (and with Spearing at right back). And as has happened when he's played further forward, he delivered a couple of great throughballs. I doubt he has the strength to play there in the league, but it was interesting to see.
The 4-4-2: We know 4-2-3-1 is Benitez’s preferred formation. So I’m often perplexed when 4-4-2 is the primary formation during preseason, no matter the players on the field. Happened last year, and the year before that. There has to be a reason for it, but I haven’t figured it out yet.
The next friendly is against Espanyol next Sunday. I don’t know if it’s on TV in the US yet.