Liverpool fans will be hoping for a far better performance when the Premier League champions begin the defence of their crown in two weeks time. Though only a glorified friendly, all those with a vested interest in Liverpool Football Club will be concerned by the lack of creativity and ruthlessness which ultimately cost the Reds the game.
After a mixed pre-season, Jürgen Klopp’s side was flat for the majority of the 90 minutes, with Arsenal not forced anywhere near their maximum to secure the draw. That will worry Klopp more than the penalty shootout loss, which can be put down to something of a lottery. Rhian Brewster happened to be the unfortunate player to miss, but this would not have become the decisive moment had the Reds performed well in regulation time.
The German chose to stick with the tried and trusted that did not deviate far from the strongest line up that Liverpool could field. With Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold still struggling for fitness, James Milner and Neco Williams deputised whilst the remaining nine players were the normal figures.
Here are the Community Shield winners and losers:
Takumi MinaminoEmbed from Getty Images
The Japanese international needed to put in a display of note to push himself back into the fold and this was that statement performance. After coming on just before the hour mark, the former RB Salzburg player injected some much-needed intensity into the front line. He and fellow substitute Naby Keïta combined to drive the Reds towards an equaliser that looked elusive for much of the afternoon.
He would pull Liverpool level with an instinctive finish, taking advantage of the pinball in the Arsenal box which saw the ball fall his way five yards out. With complete composure, Minamino caressed the ball – well out of the reach of the full-length dive of Martínez – into the bottom corner of the Gunner’s goal.
The 25-year-old expertly linked the midfield and forward line for the remaining 15 minutes, as a constant supply of the ball enabled him to become the creative force that had largely been absent until his introduction.
With his first competitive goal for Liverpool now out of the way, fans can hope that this type of display can be shown on a more regular basis when he does take to the field during the upcoming campaign.
Sadio ManéEmbed from Getty Images
The Senegal international had an uncharacteristically unreliable day in the capital. After being arguably Liverpool’s best player last season, Mané struggled to impose himself on Bellerín and Holding, with the pair nullifying his contributions for the most part.
When the 28-year-old did manage to get himself free and in front of goal he squandered hugely presentable chances which would have been converted with comfort last season. While his lack of defence-piercing runs can be attributed to the effectiveness of Arsenal’s tactics, the regularity with which Sadio lost possession indicated that it just wasn’t his day. Given the infrequency of those days, there can be no real criticism of the No.10.
It was a day to forget as the winger’s performance – alongside Liverpool’s defeat – proved to the day’s major downsides. As aware as the fans of his ordinarily high standards, Mané won’t be too concerned by this as long as he can bounce back in a fortnight’s time.
Like what you see? Get it for free!
Sign up to get exclusive LFC content straight into your inbox, completely free of charge!
Mohamed SalahEmbed from Getty Images
The Egyptian was completely anonymous throughout the 90 minutes and really struggled to effect the fixture at all. Unable to get anything going, yesterday’s display was one of Salah’s quietest ever in a Liverpool shirt. Like Mané, Salah struggled to retain possession, often ceding the healthy supply that was fed his way. Keiran Tierney’s excellent display compounded Salah’s struggles.
The No.11 also largely neglected his defensive duties, leaving the inexperienced Neco Williams to fend for himself against Maitland-Niles and Aubameyang. The two-on-one overlap – made possible by Salah’s reluctance to track back – was a constant thorn in the side of the Welsh international.
An expertly-dispatched penalty did little to cover up what was a poor showing from the 28-year-old, whose distinct lack of strength and quality was noticeably absent from the game. Salah will be eager for a quick return to form, as the fight for honours – both team and individual – begins again in a fortnight’s time.