Pre-Season Shorts - Tranmere 0 Liverpool 4
Firstly, and it's important to get this out of the way right out of the gate, THESE GAMES MEAN NOTHING. Performances, whether good or bad, MEAN NOTHING.
Allowing individual performances to influence your opinion on a player is both foolish and dangerous. I speak from experience, having once said of Iago Aspas “he’s going to be class, he reminds me of Craig Bellamy”. Not a mistake I'll be making again in a hurry.
That said, we’ve had no footy for months and these games are better than nothing. So I’ll watch and I’ll observe. I might even enjoy. What I won’t do, or at least I’ll try my damnedest not to, is be overly influenced by what I see.
So, without further ado, here are some observations on Tranmere 0 Liverpool 4 from Wednesday night.
1) Trent Alexander-Arnold looks like he’s filled out a bit. Remember that summer when Gerrard came back and looked about six inches taller and had added a stone of muscle. This isn’t quite that level of transformation (hopefully we'll get that next summer), but he doesn’t look quite so skinny and leggy, so that's a good sign for this season.
2) It felt weird seeing Daniel Sturridge playing in one of these early pre-season games. Usually, due to internationals, injuries or both, we only get to see him a week before the season starts if we’re lucky. He was quiet, but that doesn’t matter in the slightest as once again, PERFORMANCES IN THESE GAMES MEAN NOTHING. He’s out there, that’s the main thing. For how long we'll have to wait and see.
3) It was great seeing Jordan Henderson back out there and looking fit and strong. I’ll make a prediction here and now. If he stays injury free this season, he’ll be our player of the season. He was great last season but it almost went under the radar a bit because other players were grabbing the headlines. He deserves an injury free year as he’s a great lad is Hendo.
4) Fair play Lazar Markovic. I appreciated that selfless act of ballooning that sitter over the bar just so we weren’t subjected to social media goons calling for him to be given a chance. I also appreciate those numerous abysmally heavy first touches too, nice one lad.
5) Marko Grujic is my boy and he’s started this pre-season the way he did the last one - like a big fucking boss. One of the biggest disappointments for me last season was that Grujic hardly got to play because he looks like he could be a star. The problem was, and still is, that he’s got better players ahead of him so it’s difficult to even get on the field. Injuries killed him too, he missed around half the season I think, but when he did get on he looked good in the limited opportunities he had and I’m expecting big things from him this time.
6) Nice to see Jon Flanagan out there in red again, but at best he’s going to be third in line for both full back slots and it’s difficult to see any way back in for him. He’s been in this situation before and proved people wrong though, and I’d love it if he did it again as I love Flanno. How can you not?
7) Sheyi Ojo and Ryan Kent are both very talented, but not yet at the level we need them to be at to contribute for the first team. In 12 months time though who knows.
8) Where the hell is Harry Wilson?
9) Dominic Solanke has something about him. Again, it’s only a glorified training session and anyone drawing any conclusions from it will deserve all the mockery that comes their way when they inevitably end up with egg on their faces. Still, watching the way he collects the ball and makes space to get a shot away reminded me a lot of a young Diego Costa, only without the elephant man face. Wait, did I just pull an 'Aspas' again there? I think I did.