So to our annual trip to Norway which of course had more significance and poignancy given the tragic events of 22nd July.
Needless to say the pre match silence was impeccably observed after Liverpool fans and officials had laid tributes in the City centre earlier in the day. The each Liverpool player then marked the occasion with the simple, but effective, gesture of placing a rose behind one of the goals.
Kenny’s side was a far cry from the pre season line up we’ve seen so far. Nine changes from Galatasaray all of them first teamers, or as near as dam it, suggested that he was looking for something more serious by way of a performance. The line up could, give or take a few late Copa America stragglers, be the one we will see facing Sunderland on 13th August?
One person who we know we will be without on this day is Steven Gerrard who is out until 10th September. An in form and fit Gerrard is clearly a advantage however there will be time when we will have to get by without him and sadly we’ve had plenty of practice recently. Hopefully Gerrard, when does return, will put together a good injury free run in the side, it seems a long, long time since we’ve enjoyed that?
Back to Valerenga and sadly the strength of the line up was not reflected in the opening performance, within twenty five minutes we were 2-0 down. The first goal saw the Norwegians given far too much space, a common pre season theme. Strand was allowed to look up and link up with Nielson, who was not closed down by Glen Johnson, and allowed to return the ball to Strand who gave Reina no chance. This was Johnson’s first game for a while and for the second goal he was also found wanting he twice failed to deal with Nielson which eventually lead to Adam clashing with Kone. The challenge wasn’t particularly malicious nonetheless the referee was “outraged” enough to point to the spot. Ogude converted.
After that Kone could have put the game beyond doubt however, he was denied by Reina and then by Carragher with a last ditch tackle. The game did have some positives when we finally decided to play some football we moved the ball around nicely and using Downing and Henderson on the flanks both looked confident and played their part. We got our just desserts just before the break when Downing picked out Carroll who, after his initial header came to nothing, volleyed home the resulting loose ball.
In the second half we began well with a good Adam effort from distance but then both sides seemed to lose interest. Kenny shook things up a bit which seemed to do the trick. Again one of the players introduced was Alberto Aquilani who in the space of mere fifteen minutes or so, gave us another infuriating glimpse of what we might let slip through or fingers. A great corner that Kelly should have done better with was then followed by superb take on the run and volley that produced a great save from Hirschfeld. Not content with this the Italian took the resulting corner which saw Agger head home the equaliser. Next Aquilani picked up the ball from Kuyt and arrowed a serving shot that Hirschfeld misjudged but still managed to beat away. The resulting corner? Yes, you’ve guessed it and it was Agger again who this time found some space and stuck it home with his left peg. Valerenga ensured that we kept up our record on conceding three in all of our pre season games when Fellah slammed one in from distance with Flanagan and Carrgaher, despite being in close attendance, not really closing him down.
So Valencia next on Saturday and signs that going forward and in terms of creativity we are improving, hardly a surprise as most of the first team played? However, the defence remains a worry. Perhaps they are laying off tackles for fear of getting injured for the start of the season however, one wonders, there still appears to be the fragileness and lack of awareness that we saw last season? Time to secure at least one new addition as well as trying to persuade a certain Italian that his future, for this season at least, is red?