A late Daniel Agger own goal was the only separation between Liverpool and Roma in a dull game at Boston’s Fenway Park.
Brendan Rodgers named a side featuring most of his first time players that were exempt from World Cup action over the past month with Fabio Borini featuring from the start despite being in talks with Sunderland ahead of a potential permanent transfer to Wearside.
Here are some things we learned from the game.
It was notable from the off the extent to which Rodgers set his team out to play on the front foot in a manner similar to what we saw throughout last season. However, Liverpool pressed more incessantly and cohesively than they have done throughout his reign.Joe Allen, nominally playing as one of the deeper pair in midfield, often found himself as the furthest forward player when out of possession while his partner Lucas also vacated his zone in an attempt to pinch the ball back. Behind them, forgotten man Sebastian Coates made a couple of decent tackles when tracking an opponent into midfield.
It’s easy to forget what a sublime talent Philippe Coutinho actually is. This time last year, he was tearing through pre-season with ominous ease but a season that included a medium-term shoulder injury and numerous positional changes meant 2013/14 wasn’t his best.Despite arriving in England as a typical Brazilian number ten, Rodgers has seen the best of the former Internazionale man when he’s deployed deeper in midfield. Here, he was the brightest player on the park, particularly in the second half – lithe, intelligent and creative (Rodgers called him the brain of the team after the game, the “continuity player”). If only he could shoot.
- Forgotten men
The game featured three men in particular whose Liverpool careers are in a state of flux. José Enrique has been first-choice left back for most of Rodgers’ tenure but the form of Jon Flanagan and links to Alberto Moreno and Ben Davies following the Spaniard’s injury last term points to a change in direction for the club.On the night, Enrique was his usual self: brash, imposing and excellent when facing an opponent one-on-one but sloppy in possession and lacking in concentration. Beside him was the Uruguayan Coates who had a strong game following a long-term layoff. However, for all his composure, strength and height, he still lacks the speed of foot to be a Rodgers player.
Don’t be surprised to see him go on to have a successful career in Italy or Spain, though. Jack Robinson also featured after replacing Enrique at half time and he impressed despite coming off the back of a disappointing loan spell in the Championship with Blackpool. Perhaps there is still a future for the left back in a problem position.
- A promising came
Emre Can was introduced early on and took time to adjust to proceedings, enduring a quiet first half before showing his capabilities in the second. One particularly impressive forward burst was his highlight-reel moment but he generally looked both solid and agile when playing in a midfield three with Joe Allen and Lucas.His comfort on the left hand side should also a provide balance to the engine room that is often understated.
- Misfortune strikes again for Borini
Should Borini leave Liverpool for Sunderland or any other club, his time at Anfield will always be considered a failure. Just two goals for the club (against Gomel and Newcastle) is a poor return for an £11m player. That said, fortune has never favoured him: a broken foot and a dislocated shoulder marred his debut season before his loan move to the Black Cats.Bearing this in mind, it’s hardly ideal that he was taken off early on against his former club Roma with another shoulder injury (though one that isn’t thought to be serious) at a time when he’s supposed to be weighing up his career options ahead of talks with Sunderland’s representatives.
With Loic Remy in Boston to finalize his transfer from QPR, tonight’s 12-minute cameo would be a disappointing ending to a Liverpool career that began with such optimism.
David Kennedy, Pundit Arena.