KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - JULY 16: Andy Carroll of Liverpool in action during the pre-season friendly match between Malaysia and Liverpool at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on July 16, 2011 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images)
Let's face it, losing to a team that finished in the middle of the Championship is always going to look bad for a team of Liverpool's stature. When that loss is a 3-0 shutout, it looks even worse. But while some may have you believe that we're doomed to another season of missing out on a top 4 finish, I don't think today's friendly should be of any concern to Liverpool fans. In fact, I think today's results help show how deep a squad we really have, something that will be very useful to us as injuries start to take their toll.
First, let's look at the line-ups in both halves.
Kelly – Carra – Ayala – Robinson
Coady – Poulsen
Cole – Aqua – Maxi
Flano – Wilson – Greek – Insua
Spearing – Adam
Kuyt – Henderson – Downing
Both sides lined-up (or attempted to, in the first half) in a 4-2-3-1. If I were to take an educated guess as to what our line-up against Sunderland will be, it would be this:
Johnson - Skrtel - Agger - XXXXXX
Gerrard - Lucas
Suarez - Meireles - Downing
(Note that this depends on us signing a new LB, which I think is very likely, and that Aquilani is sold instead of Meireles)
See anything interesting? Only 2 two of those players, Downing and Carroll, played today. Downing, in his Liverpool debut, looked very sharp, putting in lots of crosses from the left before swapping sides with Kuyt and playing from the right. Carroll looked more fit and active than at any other point in his Liverpool career so far. Along with Henderson, they were the best players on the pitch in the second half. Once they are able to play more games with the rest of our "main" first team squad, I think that Liverpool will once again be able to dominate teams.
Players like Henderson, Kuyt, and Adam will all see lots of games because of injuries and squad rotation, but don't necessarily have to start every game when they are fit. For us to have essentially 3 complete squads is a great sign, and will come in handy if we make a Cup run, or when we get back into European competition. Several players will be sold or loaned, but these can easily be replaced with either new purchases or academy players. So don't worry that we lost today. Instead, be excited. Be excited that we finally have good depth in our squad.