13 July 2011

Liverpool 4-3 Guangdong

First Half:
Kelly Carragher Wilson Flanagan
Poulsen Spearing
Cole Shelvey Pacheco

Second Half:
Wisdom Kyrgiakos Agger Robinson
Coady Adam
Kuyt Aquilani Maxi

• Hansen on for Jones 71'

Poulsen 19'
Ngog 22'
Steer 45+1'
Coady 72'
Carroll 85'
Liu Lin 90'
Hongbo 90+2'

Three sloppy goals conceded – one in first half injury time, two in second half injury time – take the shine off of what was otherwise one of Liverpool's best first preseason friendly performances in recent memory.

Despite wholesale changes at halftime, Liverpool played 4-2-3-1 throughout. The first half saw a similar line-up and start to many of Liverpool's Europa League games, with Cole, Shelvey, and Ngog featuring. The away side was increasingly in control, playing some clever pass and move football and circling the ball across the pitch, with two goals coming in quick succession around the 20 minute mark.

First, Cole's delicious cross found Poulsen wide open at the back post, where the Dane coolly (and surprisingly) beat the keeper with a side-footed placed shot. Three minutes later, Cole's good work led to Shelvey in space between the midfield and defense, where he found Ngog with a perfectly-angled throughball. The Frenchman took one touch before sliding under the keeper.

Liverpool continued to patiently dominate for the rest of the half, but were undone with seconds remaining. Kelly was caught upfield, Poulsen couldn't get back to cover, and Gulasci rashly came out and missed the left-sided cross, allowing Steer to head in.

We saw an entirely different XI in the second half, with more first-teamers in addition to debuts for Adam, Coady, and Wisdom. Aquilani made his return in red, playing behind Carroll with Kuyt and Maxi on the flanks, while Meireles wasn't included in the match-day squad. Due to the inclusion of Adam and Carroll, Liverpool looked for more ambitious long-range passing, which took time to settle.

However, a little less than 30 minutes after the restart, a Liverpool break led Carroll setting up Coady. The mountainous Geordie held up play well before finding the youngster, who took one touch before blasting past the substitute keeper. With five minutes to play, Liverpool added a fourth through the #9, playing a clever one-two with Maxi before slotting in from eight yards. Liverpool falling asleep in added time, conceding twice as Kyrgiakos, Agger, and Wisdom made mistakes, makes this result far closer – and far more annoying – than it should have been.

It's impossible to divine much from preseason matches, but on the whole, Liverpool impressed. With slightly different styles in either half despite the change in formation, the side scored four – once on an excellent cross, once with a clever throughball, once aiming for Carroll over the top on the break, and once with a one-two pass and move. Cole and Shelvey bossed the first half, Adam increasingly set the tempo in the second. Both Ngog and Carroll notched, as did the 18-yard old Conor Coady. As did Christian Poulsen, of all players. No matter that it was against a second division Chinese side. And, to be fair, it is the middle of that second division side's season, but Liverpool looked the fitter in the final stages despite conceding twice.

It's hard to pick out best players in but Shelvey, Cole, Robinson, and Adam were most notable in my eyes. Shelvey and Cole dictated play in the first half, Adam did in the second. Since everyone probably cares more about Adam, I thought he was very Adam. He often looked for over-ambitious passes – some came off, some didn't – but increasingly played it simple as the match went on. He was constantly on the ball as the deepest midfielder, where he put in some impressive tackles.

What worries were all three goals conceded. All three were sloppy and lazy. All three were easily preventable were certain players paying attention. But that's preseason; it's slightly more explainable when it happens in meaningless matches and at least they're getting those mistakes out of the way now.

Liverpool next face a Malaysian XI on Saturday at 5:30am eastern time.


Marc said...

How was Aquilani?

nate said...

Did well. Even got a shoutout from John Henry on Twitter after the match. Less notable than Shelvey (who played the same position in the 1st half), but steady, smart, and constantly moving. Typical Aquilani when he was fit and firing in '09-10.

Marc said...

Yay! Really want him to work out.

So 4-2-3-1, eh? Think we'll stick with it? I guess the ideal 11 in that would be something like:


Yeah? With Kuyt backing up Henderson and Carroll (or starting over Henderson), Aquilani backing up Gerrard, Maxi backing up Suarez, Spearing behind Lucas, and Meireles as cover for any number of midfield spots?

Still no similarly-inclined passer as cover for Adam, though, which makes me less excited about the formation.

nate said...

Dubious of Henderson on right of 4-2-3-1 – it's different from how he played for Sunderland on the right in 4-4-2 – but otherwise, yeah that makes sense.

Would also suggest that maybe

Gerrard - Adam/Lucas

could also be an interesting combination. Say, Adam at Anfield and Lucas for more steel away from Anfield.

As I've written before, gonna be hard to predict Liverpool's line-ups regardless.

vinnie said...

i don't think king kenny has a set formation even with the same players, which works out well due to the uncertainty put on the opponent but not too much rotation in place.

by any chance would reina have commanded the defence better preventing those careless goals? my experience tells that a good commanding goalie is just as important as having the right defenders

Pan said...

Fair point Vinnie - just to take that premise to a ridiculous level, I reckon that if we put Carra in goal he would never have to make a save ever.. in fact there wouldn't be any shots on our goal full stop ;)
Unless they came from himself of course!

Neel said...

Yahay! Downing to Liverpool is almost done and dusted. A fee has been agreed. Should only be a matter of time now.

This really makes the line-up interesting. I feel more than a LB we really need a CB as the last and final addition to the squad. Having both Cole and Aquilani in the squad in the short term could be very very important for squad depth.

Aron said...

Regarding formations, I read somewhere on the internets (meaning it is reliable as an alfa romeo) that the whole liverpool academy and reserve system plays only a 4-2-3-1 system.

It would be interesting if someone who ran a blog were to do a bit of research into this and see if its true....

cybersix said...

Love 2nd half performance of Adam and Aquilani.

In EPL, if we in match with team that do not make many closing or too much marking at the center, I'd say Aquilani, Adam is a good choice to deploy.

Aquilani got clever pass through.
Adam got good long range passing and also good pass through.