Oh wow, a wrap to do! Hope I still remember how this goes.
I don't know if there's a sport where you can learn less from the preseason than football. The gears are so wound down from the season, you have teams at different stages of their preparation which is never something you have in American sports, so it's hard to judge what it's going to portend to when things kick off in anger. Milan looked every bit a team that still has a full month before they really have to worry about anything, and Liverpool looked like a team that has a growing sense of urgency as they move closer to their kickoff. But hey, there were some things to like and not, so let's hit the bullets.
-Despite the raucous closing thrust to last season, I sometimes still think that Liverpool looked its best when Gerrard was injured and the midfield three was Lucas behind Allen and Henderson. With no slight to our captain of course, but that 5-0 thrashing of Spurs still lives in the memory. So it was cool to see them again together again, with Allen actually getting on the scoresheet. Allen was his dynamic and never-stopping self, including one cutting out of a dangerous cross from Niang after he'd run about 70 yards to get there.
I'd spent most of my summer terrified that Lucas would leave, and I still worry about a deadline day exit. But he doesn't appear as sluggish or just one-tick off where he used to be this preseason, though obviously that has to be taken with a few grains of salt. Considering the limit on matches Gerrard can play, the likelihood that he'll get hurt at some point, and perhaps the need for a double-pivot in some matches, there still should be plenty of opportunity for Lucas. At least I hope.
-What is obvious is that the engine to replace a lot of the impetus lost in Suarez's departure is Phillipe Coutinho. Liverpool have only looked like a rock song when the little Brazilian has been on the pitch this summer. The mind races with what he could be one day.
It's also why I'd make a case for Suso staying and getting some looks. Because were Coutinho to be unavailable. Liverpool don't really have another inspirational player. Sure, Henderson can do it through graft or Gerrard with a long pass, and Lallana and Markovic and Sterling all have their features. But none of them is a #10, though Sterling has played in that spot at times (still don't fully believe him there yet though). Suso has that kind of ability, though I would understand if management thought he needed another season of regular football to bring it out at Anfield. But he's looked pretty tasty during this preseason. Isn't there always one player who plays himself into the squad and onto the field during preseason under Rodgers?
-Can this be the last time I have to sit through a Kolo Toure start?
-I'd hate to think the injuries have caught up to Martin Kelly, but I don't know how else to put it. He doesn't seem to have the verve that fits into this kind of team and style. He just looks ponderous in both attack and defense. Perhaps it's past the time he switched to the middle, which is what we all saw coming back when he was a regular at right back. But a switch to the middle would put him even farther down the depth chart, so where does he go?
-Jordan Ibe, that could be a thing, huh? Clearly as raw as the steak at the butcher's, and his touch is going to need some work. But you can't teach that fearlessness and confidence, so there's a lot to work with. Kind of what we said about Sterling not so long ago.
-I'm really pissed that there's a United match now. Those are torturous enough when there's only two of them per season, and there's no way we can be totally calm even during a preseason match. And too many conclusions will be drawn off the emotions involved.
Only two more to go and then it's real. Beam me up.