5 talking points from Liverpool's pre-season opener against Karlsruher SC

Liverpool kicked off their pre-season campaign with an emphatic 4-2 win over Karlsruher SC on Wednesday evening, as a late Diogo Jota double ultimately sank the German second division side.

After a long two-month hiatus, Liverpool fans could finally get their football fix as Jurgen Klopp fielded two completely different XI's (one in each half) in a bid to get the squad on the path to proper fitness and preparation for the new season.

The game started off strong from a Reds perspective, with an early Darwin Nuñez goal. However, the first-half side had to rely on the brilliance of Cody Gakpo and Diogo Jota to win them the game in the second 45 once Karlsruher began to come into their own.

With 23 members of Liverpool's squad on display, here are five talking points from the pre-season opener.

READ MORE: Liverpool player ratings — 4-2 win over Karlsruher SC


Trent in midfield

Much of the debate over the summer (transfer rumours aside) has been about where exactly Trent Alexander-Arnold is going to play this season.

After seeing his hybrid role for Liverpool towards the tail end of 2022/23, as well as his exclusively midfield role for England in the international scene, many were eagerly waiting to see where the Scouser's name would appear on the team sheet.

On Wednesday night Jurgen Klopp opted to deploy the number 66 in a midfield three with Bobby Clark and new boy Dominik Szoboszlai in the first half, with Conor Bradley coming in at right-back.

While the lineup was intriguing, it remains to be seen whether this will have any bearing when the season officially starts against Chelsea on 13 August.

In fact, when considering Liverpool's midfield options, perhaps Trent playing in the centre was more of a necessity — Jordan Henderson and Fabinho missed out while negotiating moves, Thiago Alcántara and Stefan Bajcetic are still recovering from injury, while U21 Euro champions Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones were yet to start their pre-season campaigns.

With very limited options, even Kostas Tsimikas wound up in midfield at one point!

Debut delight

The start of the pre-season also meant fans could finally have the chance to see the club's new midfield recruits in action — albeit not together as they featured in separate halves.

The first 45 gave Dominik Szoboszlai the chance to shine, and that he did. Liverpool's new number eight looked silky on the ball and glided past players in the midfield.

While there were no defining moments from the Hungarian, the first impressions he gave were certainly positive.

As the second-half began, it was time for Alexis Mac Allister, and the number 10 looked like he had been playing for the Reds for years. Close control, confidence, forward-thinking, the Argentine looked a natural.

His relationship with Diogo Jota was especially pleasing, as the pair seemed to understand one another to a tee - ultimately culminating in a debut assist from Mac Allister in the final moments of the game.

Not bad at all.

Ben Doak is a wizard

To say before the game that Liverpool fans were particularly eager to see Ben Doak in action — considering new signings were set to debut, and the Reds hadn't played football for two months — really speaks to just how highly-rated the 17-year-old is.

As soon as he strolled onto the pitch in the second-half, it was clear to see why.

Everything about the Scottish winger is exciting. He's confident, he's direct, he's tricky, and most of all, he has that bite that Liverpool fans love to see. If his pre-season performance is any indication, expect to see a lot more from Doak this season. Liverpool need an understudy for Mo Salah, and with Europa League games to contend with, the youngster could be just that.

Gakpo looking sharp

If there was one player that looked like last season never ended, then it was Cody Gakpo.

Despite only joining in January and playing half a campaign, Liverpool's Dutchman emerged as one of the fan favourites of last season, even to the point of being hailed the 'new Bobby Firmino' by some. High praise indeed.

Safe to say his form continued last night, as Liverpool's number 18 looked as fit as ever.

Taking no time at all to bag his first goal of 2023/24 with an impressive finish, the thought of Gakpo having a full season to showcase his ability is terrifying, and not for Liverpool.

Jota is still a slotter

Liverpool are in an incredibly privileged position with a plethora of firepower at their disposal this season, but perhaps the most underrated of the bunch is Diogo Jota.

Many fans see Mo Salah and Luis Diaz as irreplaceable on the wings when fit, with Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nuñez and Diogo Jota having to fight for the final position in a front three.

While Nunez, and Gakpo justifiably deserve attention, the number 20 often gets forgotten, or dismissed as an impact sub, despite being one of the best — if not the best — finishers at the club.

If it wasn't for Jota's late brace, Liverpool would have drawn their first pre-season game, evoking back memories of the Portuguese's clutch, Richarlison-infuriating moment from last season.

If the Karlsruher game showed us anything it's that Jota is hunting for a starting place this season.

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