The 2019/20 season may not have finished just yet, but most teams are already beginning their preparation for the upcoming and fast-approaching new campaign.
Fortunately for the lazier players, they won’t be put through the rigorous training boot camps of old, given that their respective leagues are only a matter of weeks away from kicking off. So, managers are now frantically arranging pre-season friendlies to get their stars in tip-top shape ahead of another gruelling year of football.
Premier League coaches will all have drawn a big circle around the date ‘September 12’ on their calendars, as they work towards trimming their squads and finalising their plans ahead of the first weekend of the English top flight.
Saturday afternoon saw three Premier League clubs take to the field – with varying success. Here is a quick look back at how they got on in their pre-season clashes.
We’ll start with the most dramatic match of the afternoon, which involved Carlo Ancelotti and his Everton side. It’s safe to say that last season did not go to plan for the Toffees, but with the Italian legend in the dugout and his feet now under the table, things had to be more positive going into next year, right?
Well, evidently not. Unbelievably, Everton found themselves three goals down to League One side Blackpool inside 11 minutes of play. CJ Hamilton gave the Tangerines the lead in the first minute, and a two-minute double from Sulley Kaikai and Grant Ward rocked the Premier League giants.
Luckily for Toffees’ fans everywhere, their side suddenly remembered how to play football. Dominic Calvert-Lewin pulled one back from a corner on 22 minutes, and Gylfi Sigurdsson added a second eight minutes later. The comeback was complete on 72 minutes, when Sigurdsson curled a lovely free-kick into the top corner. Catastrophe avoided.
They say you learn more from your failures than successes, and Ancelotti will have discovered plenty about his players on Saturday afternoon…
Elsewhere, Tottenham Hotspur’s pre-season got underway much more smoothly, beating League One club Ipswich Town 3-0 in their return to action. José Mourinho fielded an extremely strong starting lineup, including new signing Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, who recently joined from Southampton.
Spurs’ depth in quality showed from the off, and Ryan Sessegnon got the ball rolling in the ninth minute, finding the bottom corner following some smart play by Dele Alli. Alli then picked up his second assist of the afternoon only four minutes later, allowing Heung-min Son to double their advantage.
Son capped off the afternoon’s goals on the half-hour mark, chipping the Ipswich goalkeeper in style. New signing Joe Hart also made an appearance for the north Londoners, and Mourinho will be satisfied with his side’s commanding performance.
Last but not least, the Premier League champions. Liverpool faced VfB Stuttgart on Saturday afternoon and made light work of the German outfit with a comfortable 3-0 victory in Austria. Jurgen Klopp’s men started with typical gusto, taking the lead on 15 minutes, when Curtis Jones’ excellent work was rounded off by Roberto Firmino.
Naby Keita then got in on the act just before half-time, and Rhian Brewster staked his claim for a place in the side by firing home from close range to add a third. A solid afternoon for the reigning champs.
Blackpool 3-3 Everton
Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Ipswich Town
VfB Stuttgart 0-3 Liverpool