It’s not often that goals in pre-season friendlies are remembered for long.
And it is even rarer that we remain in the collective consciousness three years after this has happened.
Yet most Liverpool fans remember Xherdan Shaqiri’s lavish bike kick against Manchester United – in front of 100,000, no less – at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
Liverpool were already leading 3-1 as the game drew to a close in its final 10 minutes. United struggled to get the ball out of their own half and Liverpool threw a succession of crosses into the box. A delivery from the right is passed over Sheyi Ojo’s head (remember him?) Through the byline, and transplanted it towards the center of the box towards Shaqiri.
The Switzerland international catapulted himself through the air and executed a perfectly formed bicycle kick that flicked into United’s net, delighting Liverpool fans behind the goal. The game ended 4-1 and Shaqiri also left the pitch with an assist, having prepared Daniel Sturridge for the third.
Shaqiri, who had just signed at Stoke City two weeks earlier for £ 13million, used the confidence he had gained in this preseason and carried it over to the 2018/19 season. Shaqiri was used as a partial player by Jürgen Klopp, but still scored six times and provided three Premier League assists, while also making two assists in the club’s race to Champions League victory, including the third goal by Gini Wijnaldum. in this unforgettable evening at Anfield against Barcelona.
This 2018 preseason has set the tone and his extraordinary goal has shown what Shaqiri can do when he’s confident.
A good preseason can make all the difference for a player – make a good impression and you can figure in the manager’s plans for the coming season, especially if you are on the outskirts of the squad. Or, as is often the case, a good preseason can really build confidence, and players often jump in early in the campaign.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a player who must endure a positive preseason. The England midfielder has really suffered the last three or four seasons with a myriad of injuries. At the end of last year’s preseason, Oxlade-Chamberlain suffered a knee injury that kept him from playing until early 2021. The former Arsenal man only played 17 times for Liverpool last season, playing a total of 286 minutes in all competitions. Having missed the preseason last summer, he just never found enough rhythm.
The 27-year-old’s contract at Anfield expires in less than two years, and the player will want to justify an extension at the club.
A good preseason for Oxlade-Chamberlain would do wonders to boost his confidence. Perhaps more importantly, it would maintain his fitness – which has been his biggest kryptonite since his knee injury against Roma in the 2018 Champions League semi-finals – ahead of a pivotal season.
If he could follow in the footsteps of Shaqiri’s 2018 preseason, then Oxlade-Chamberlain could be seen almost as a new signing for Klopp, so little was he in last season.