Liverpool ended their pre-season tour of the United States with a defeat as goals from former Premier League duo Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah gave Roma a 2-1 win.

 

Liverpool were dealt their second loss of pre-season in the final game of their USA tour as Roma emerged 2-1 victors over the Merseysiders. Klopp’s side looked positive throughout the game, but the combination of a defensive mishap and the Reds’ failure to convert chances handed Luciano Spalletti’s side a morale-boosting victory.

Former Manchester City striker and a familiar nemesis in Edin Dzeko opened the scoring for Roma, using the space afforded to him by the Reds’ defence before driving the ball past keeper Alex Manninger into the bottom right corner. However, Sheyi Ojo equalized for Liverpool just before half-time by directing a Dejan Lovren header off a corner into the back of Alisson Becker’s net. Roma winger Mohamed Salah then capitalized on a mix-up between Simon Mignolet and Andre Wisdom to net the winner for the Italians in the second half.

TheHardTackle discusses five key talking points from Liverpool’s entertaining encounter against Roma at the Busch Stadium in St.Louis.

Sturridge missing his shooting boots

ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 01: Daniel Sturridge #15 of Liverpool FC handles the ball against AS Roma during a friendly match at Busch Stadium on August 1, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. AC Roma won 2-1. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

ST LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 01: Daniel Sturridge #15 of Liverpool FC handles the ball against AS Roma during a friendly match at Busch Stadium on August 1, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. AC Roma won 2-1. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

There is no questioning Daniel Sturridge’s quality up front and through the course of the US tour, the Englishman has once again established that he is one of Liverpool’s key attacking threats. However, in the last couple of pre-season games for the Reds, Sturridge hasn’t managed to convert good opportunities presented to him. It isn’t necessarily a matter for concern for Liverpool however, with the likes of Divock Origi and Danny Ings hot on his heels by delivering some solid performances. Sturridge will have to up his game though, as the 26-year-old’s place in the starting lineup is anything but guaranteed.

It took Origi less than fifteen minutes to break the deadlock for the Reds in their 2-0 win over AC Milan in California. The Belgian was ruled out of today’s game due to a reported groin injury and could be expected to be rested for Liverpool’s massive clash against Barcelona at Wembley on 6th August. Sturridge has little margin for error in a squad that possesses a lot of depth — especially in the attacking department.

Injuries a serious worry for Klopp

The treatment room at Liverpool is already very busy, with Alberto Moreno and Divock Origi the latest — albeit short-term — additions to a worrying injury list. Origi was excluded from the squad facing Roma owing to a groin injury he suffered prior to the game. Meanwhile, Moreno suffered what Klopp referred to as a ‘dead leg’ after the Spaniard took a knock to his thigh in the second half of the game against Roma.

WIGAN, ENGLAND - JULY 17: Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Wigan Athletic and Liverpool at JJB Stadium on July 17, 2016 in Wigan, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

WIGAN, ENGLAND – JULY 17: Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Wigan Athletic and Liverpool at JJB Stadium on July 17, 2016 in Wigan, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Whether or not the two players will play any further part in Liverpool’s pre-season campaign is not yet known and will depend on the seriousness of their respective injuries. The duo join the likes of Joel Matip, Loris Karius, Marko Grujic, Lucas Leiva, Joe Gomez and the suspended Mamadou Sakho on the list of casualties. Four defenders (including Lucas) feature in that injury list and with the Premier League only two weeks away, the Reds are left with Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan as their only recognised centre-back options.

The severe lack of choices at the back was showcased by Liverpool’s centre-back pairing during the second half, when midfielder Kevin Stewart and right-back Andre Wisdom assumed the duties of holding their side’s defence together. Liverpool face four of last season’s top 5 in the opening months of the new season and they will have to ensure the majority of their squad is fit and raring to go if they are to harbour dreams of a top 4 finish in the 2016-17 campaign.

Mignolet does his case no good; Manninger has a decent outing

With Loris Karius out for at least the first two months of the new campaign due to a broken hand, the onus was on Mignolet to prove why he should remain the Reds’ first-choice keeper at the expense of his German colleague. However, the Belgian shot-stopper did his reputation no good as he played a big part in Roma’s second goal that eventually proved to be the winner.

Lack of communication between Mignolet and Wisdom allowed former Chelsea man Mohammed Salah to bundle the ball into back of the net. The 28-year-old did well at first to block Dzeko’s menacing header towards his goal. However, the ball landed back in awkward territory, leaving the defender and goalkeeper gaping at each other as Roma’s top scorer from last season won the game for his side. Mignolet was among Klopp’s ten second-half substitutions as he replaced the 39-year-old Alex Manninger — who made his debut for Liverpool — in goal.

ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 01: Mohamed Salah #11 of AS Roma scores the game winning goal against Simon Mignolet #22 of Liverpool FC during a friendly match at Busch Stadium on August 1, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. AC Roma won 2-1. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

ST LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 01: Mohamed Salah #11 of AS Roma scores the game winning goal against Simon Mignolet #22 of Liverpool FC during a friendly match at Busch Stadium on August 1, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. AC Roma won 2-1. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

Despite his age, Manninger had a decent game in goal for the Reds and showed that he is a more than capable third-choice keeper. However, the Austrian was criticised by Liverpool fans as many felt he could have done better to stop Dzeko’s first-half effort from creeping into the bottom corner. Despite his short-comings as far as shot-stopping is concerned, the 39-year-old brought his experience to the fore and made some smart saves throughout the course of the first half.

Sheyi Ojo — A star in the making?

Sheyi Ojo was among Liverpool’s better players against Roma and even scored the equaliser for his side just at the stroke of half-time. His performance at the Busch Stadium came on the back of an impressive outing against AC Milan a few days earlier. With an assist and a goal since his return to action for the Reds this summer, Klopp will be happy with what he has observed of the youngster so far and will need time to ponder over the 19-year-old’s future. Whether he will stay at Liverpool or be shipped out on loan for the 2016-17 season is a decision the German boss has to make over the next few weeks as we approach the last month of the transfer window.

Ojo cut short his vacation and returned early to train hard with the first team. He has since delivered some great performances in the pre-season friendlies. The teenager is certainly beginning to show a lot of promise and a desire to do well in his bid to stake a claim for regular first-team action next season. Whether that potential helps transform him into a world class prospect is a story only time can tell.

Is central midfield Wijnaldum’s best position?

ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 01: Georginio Wijnaldum #5 of Liverpool FC shoots as Becker Alisson #19 of AS Roma defends during a friendly match at Busch Stadium on August 1, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. AC Roma won 2-1. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

ST LOUIS, MO – AUGUST 01: Georginio Wijnaldum #5 of Liverpool FC shoots as Becker Alisson #19 of AS Roma defends during a friendly match at Busch Stadium on August 1, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. AC Roma won 2-1. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

Wijnaldum has made no secret of his desire to play an attacking role in the side with much of his prominent performances last season with Newcastle United coming as a centre-attacking midfielder. However, in his early appearances for Liverpool, the Dutchman has played in a deeper role alongside Emre Can.

Despite his withdrawn position, the 25-year-old was seen surging forward in attack leaving Can with the defensive work to be done. That often left Liverpool vulnerable as it enabled the Romans to switch play from defence to attack seamlessly and even afforded them control over the centre of the park. While the goalkeeper and defence did well at times to shut down these attacks, they weren’t enough to prevent the Reds from recording a second loss in the last week.

The Dutchman was good on the ball and his late runs, which became a trademark during his time at Tyneside, were there to be seen in both games he has played for the Reds thus far. Dzeko’s opener provides the perfect example of the issue with Wijnaldum’s position. The striker exploited a big gap left behind in midfield by the Dutchman before going ahead and netting the opener for the Romans. Wijnaldum’s position is an issue Klopp will have to address in the upcoming weeks.

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