Football Features

Five observations as Liverpool bruise Bradford to maintain perfect pre-season start

By Ben Green

Published: 17:09, 14 July 2019

Liverpool have maintained a perfect start to their pre-season campaign with an assured 3-1 win over Bradford City. 

The Reds ran rampant in the first half courtesy of goals from James Milner – albeit a questionable opener – and Rhian Brewster.

However, Gary Bowyer’s side remained firm after the restart and kept the Anfield club at bay while getting a goal of their own through an Eoin Doyle penalty.

It was another composed performance from Jurgen Klopp’s side, but what did we learn?

1. Majestic Milner

James Milner played in West Yorkshire like he was skidding across the turf at the Wanda Metropolitano. At 33, the stalwart simply knows no other way of playing other than to take to the pitch like every game is a cup final.

It is that precise mentality which has kept the versatile veteran in the upper echelons of club football for so long, and with his contract set to expire next year, the club’s hierarchy may already be thinking about tying him down to a longer deal, because he is simply indispensable.

This afternoon he was everywhere, and his two goal contributions, a ricocheted opener and a composed penalty-kick, summed up a performance that Klopp will no doubt come to expect for 2019/20.

2. Deep role may not suit Lallana against top opposition

Adam Lallana flourished deployed in a deep-lying playmaker role against Tranmere earlier this week, so Klopp decided to stick rather than twist, positioning the fleet-footed footballer in the same position at the base of a midfield trident.

There was ceratinly a bit of ring rustiness about his play with a few mishaps, but by and large, the England international kept the flow of play moving at a good pace, save for a slight dip in intensity around the 30 minute mark.

Against an opposition of Bradford’s calibre – with all due respect to the League Two outfit – Lallana was a competant metronome without particuarly shining, but there were discernible vulnerabilities and without an enforcer alongside him – a la Fabinho – he will struggle to provide Liverpool’s back four the requisite protection in the Premier League.

3. Jones the jewel

Introduced for the second half, teenage tyro Curtis Jones, was a pillar of excellence in Klopp’s midfield, thriving alongside Fabinho in the centre of the pitch.

The 18-year-old has long been earmarked to make the step up from youth football to the first-team reckoning, and it’s clear to see why the midfield maestro is so highly regarded on Merseyside.

His gait is similar to that of Philippe Coutinho, in terms of the rapid change of movement he can generate with his body, while his innate dribbling ability is manifest for anyone who has seen him play.

Everything positive after the restart came through Jones, and well, he has no better teacher than Klopp to help him hone his craft and develop his skills – we may be seeing a lot of this fledgling midfielder in the coming months.

And who knows. He could yet be Coutinho’s successor: an instinctively creative release valve.

4. Moreno replacement may not be needed

Back-up left-back Alberto Moreno parted company from the club when his contract expired at the end of last month, but Klopp may not have to worry about finding cover for Andrew Robertson as he has a very capable full-back waiting in the wings.

Adam Lewis is the archetypal Klopp player and it showed this afternoon, with the buccaneering defender wreaking havoc on the left byline. His defensive frailties were evident – notably the penalty he conceded – but his attacking verve was second to none.

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Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold provided a quite ridiculous 23 league assists last season, and Lewis appears to have all the tools to follow in their footsteps: insatiable energy and a wand of a left peg.

Yasser Larouci also deserves a special mention, providing excellent pace in the first half, though like Lewis, both perhaps looked a little shaky defensively at times, with the latter channeling his inner Moreno with the aforementioned rash challenge, though this was the only blemish on an otherwise solid performance.

5. Brewster on the scoresheet again

Rhian Brewster netted a brace at Prenton Park and the teenage starlet has now followed up by getting his name on the scoresheet again.

His finish was an instinctive poacher’s goal, finding himself in the right place at the right time to fire the ball into the back of the net for Liverpool’s third.

The 19-year-old is another who has been tipped for great heights. His seasons in 2018/19 was hampered by injury problems but the clinical finisher is back and he looks like he means business.