With the Premier League season now less than a week away, Sunday’s clash with Borussia Dortmund at Anfield was the last chance for the Reds to fine tune whatever problems they may be having ahead of the new campaign.
Sure, it may have only been a friendly. But the manner in which the Reds swept aside a Borussia Dortmund side that has been well established as one of the best in Europe for the past few years, has certainly wetted the appetite for the new season.
“I’m delighted with the result,” Brendan Rodgers said at the final whistle. “They [Dortmund] have been one of Europe’s best teams for the last three or four years. We were excellent and this brings to an end what has been a very good pre-season.”
After such a busy summer of transfer activity, Kopites were eager to see how Rodgers new look squad would gel for the first time at Anfield – and there was plenty to be encouraged by.
Here are five things we learnt from the 4-0 thrashing of Borussia Dortmund.
5) Dejan Lovren looks a top player
Dejan Lovren’s Anfield debut certainly impressed Brendan Rodgers, as well as the Liverpool faithful. The Croatian defender has been forced to wait for his first appearance in a Red shirt after failing to get a visa for the tour of America, and set about making up for lost time yesterday.
Lovren headed home a debut goal from Steven Gerrard’s corner, and was a commanding presence alongside Martin Skrtel, barely allowing Dortmund a sniff of goal.
Rodgers described his £20million man’s debut as ‘perfect’, saying: “He is exactly what I’ve been looking for since Jamie Carragher left.
“He is a dominant, No?1 centre-half, who reads the game well, offers good guidance to the back four and the rest of the team – and shows his qualities of range of passing too. You saw with the pass to Coutinho in the build-up to the first goal.
“Just like he showed against us last year he’s dominant in the box – both in ours and the opposition’s – and I thought he was excellent.”
Going by his performance yesterday, you would be very surprised if the Reds defensive record didn’t improve this season with Lovren leading the line.
4) Henderson is showing that desire to get in the box
Brendan Rodgers has asked Jordan Henderson to be one of those players that contributes more goals this season, challenging the 23-year-old reach double figures after managing five in all competitions during the previous campaign, as well as seven assists.
A feature of Henderson’s pre-season has been his desire to get into the penalty box more often, and the England international fired the fourth goal in front of the Kop from close range.
Henderson scored a superb goal against Manchester City during the tour of America, and looks like a player high on confidence in front of goal.
His energy levels in the middle of the park cannot be matched, and the prospect of him arriving in goal scoring positions on a more regular basis this season is an exciting one for Liverpool fans.
3) Javier Manquillo looks an exciting prospect
The 20-year-old full back only completed his two year loan move to Anfield last week, but appeared to do a good job in winning over the supporters judging by the reception he got when substituted late in the second half.
Manquillo is highly thought of in Spain, but has been unable to dislodge JuanFran from his position at La Liga champions Atletico.
His performance yesterday has got plenty of people excited, as Manquillo slotted into the Reds back four with ease.
The Spaniard was positive, confident in possession, showed defensive discipline and skill on the ball. He even sprayed a magnificent 40-yard-pass in the first half, and looks a very exciting prospect for the season ahead.
Could well prove an inspired piece of business from the boss.
2) Daniel Sturridge is heading into the season looking sharp
Daniel Sturridge didn’t get nearly enough credit for his performances last season, which saw the 24-year-old fire 25 goals in all competitions over the season – despite missing the whole of December with injury.
The 31 goals and 12 assists from Luis Suarez took the spotlight off Sturridge somewhat, although club legends Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler have backed the England international to shine brighter now the Uruguayan has opted for a move to Barcelona.
Sturridge seems the type of player to relish being the main man, and he certainly did just that yesterday. The finish for the opening goal was top class, and the sign of a player high on confidence.
And the assist provided for Jordan Henderson for the fourth goal was a piece of skill and vision in the box that Suarez would well have been proud of.
Brendan Rodgers has backed Sturridge to star again this season, and take another step towards becoming the world class striker we all hope he will end up.
1) Phillipe Coutinho looks set to star this season
Yes, I know this was just a friendly. But the performance of Phillipe Coutinho was so good yesterday, Brendan Rodgers has backed the Brazilian to be a Champions League star this season.
The 22-year-old was at the centre of everything good the Reds did yesterday, creating the opener for Sturridge with a sublime first time flick, and scoring the third himself with a fine angled finish.
He was at the centre of some truly beautiful build up play which led to Henderson’s fourth, and was given a deserved standing ovation after being substituted late in the second half.
Brendan Rodgers had words of high praise for the man of the match at the final whistle, saying: “He’s so gifted – his ability is magical [and] the weight of his pass is phenomenal.
“He’s come into the country and lit it up with his quality. [The important thing for his development] is sustaining that level of performance.
“He’s got the opportunity to show he’s a top-level player in the Champions League and he’ll do that.
“Over the next four or five years, he’ll be a big talent in world football for Brazil and Liverpool. We’re lucky to have him.”
What do you think the 4-0 win over Dortmund taught us heading into the new season? Let us know your thoughts below.
Click here to read the match report from Sunday’s 4-0 win.