With just ten days left until Liverpool resume Premier League action, Naby Keita was key as the Reds defeated Blackburn Rovers 6-0 in a friendly. Manager Jurgen Klopp’s men comfortably beat their opponents as they shock off any potential rust.
With a Merseyside Derby looming, Liverpool sent a warning message to the rest of the league. Klopp’s men won’t let their foot off the accelerator with their first Premier League title being so close.
Naby Keita Key as Reds Batter Blackburn
A Comfortable Win
While a comfortable win against a Championship side is to be expected, one player, in particular, stood out. Naby Keita relished the opportunity, and he surely impressed Jurgen Klopp.
The Guinean scored the Red’s second goal after some good play by winger Takumi Minamino. Midfielder James Milner slid the ball through, and the Japanese international squared the ball to Keita, who scored.
For Keita, this goal must have been an enormous relief. The midfielder has had a stop-start career with the Reds, and that is mostly down to injury.
Whenever he starts getting into his groove, the injury bug strikes again. An example of this is the Club World Cup.
Keita starred in that competition, and he seemed ready to take over the Premier League. But shortly after his return from the competition, he was struck down by injury.
Also, according to Neil Jones, the midfielder completed 90 minutes only six times in his first season.
Takumi Minamino was impressive as well. The winger has struggled since his move from RB Salzburg in January. He has had trouble in the Premier League so far and has failed to score a league goal. But, in this game, he shone. The winger scored a classy goal as well as providing his assist to Keita.
In the absence of Mohamed Salah, he proved that he could step up and fill the Egyptian’s massive shoes against lesser opposition. Klopp will be hoping that this game is a platform for Minamino’s Liverpool career to take off.
Other Bits and Bobs
While this game was a positive warm-up, one thing will concern Klopp. An injury forced midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to leave the pitch. The hope is that this knock is not too severe. In this game, the Englishman forced an impressive save from a well-struck shot.
The midfielder has played well this season after coming back from a horrendous knee injury. Highlights include a wonder goal that he scored against Genk in the Champions League.
Sadio Mane, Joel Matip, Ki-Jana Hoever, and Leighton Clarkson also scored in this contest.
Clarkson’s effort was particularly impressive. The 18-year-old displayed wonderful coolness to create a shooting opportunity that he finished impressively.
Klopp will be hoping that the young man can be the next Liverpool youngster to come through the ranks. With five substitutions now being allowed in the Premier League, Clarkson may get more chances to impress.
As for Liverpool, the Reds are not expected to hold another friendly. The next time they play will be a showdown against Everton, and if the contest against Blackburn is anything to go by, they are ready.