Liverpool edged past Leicester 2-1 in the final of the EPL Asian Trophy and although Jurgen Klopp will be delighted to break his run of five losing finals and get his hands on his first trophy as Reds boss, the game asks more questions than provides answers.
Worryingly for LFC fans the same problems that cut short LFC’s title charge last season are there for all to see – again.
Here is what we learned from LFC’s victory:
LIVERPOOL’S DEFENCE IS STILL SHODDY
No wonder Jurgen Klopp won’t give up his dreams of signing Virgil van Dijk.
With Dejan Lovren pairing Joel Matip in central defence all Liverpool’s frailties were back on show with Riyad Mahrez and Leicester cutting them to ribbons with the simplest of direct passes.
Liverpool went with the same back four that started regularly in the premier league last season – James Milner on the left, Lovren, Matip and youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right.
Reds fans would love to be able to support Lovren – no player tries harder and he occasionally comes up with a very important goal, as against Dortmund a few seasons back – but he is just so unreliable, error prone and unpredictable he makes Liverpool fans feel as secure as a rope bridge across the Mersey.
Milner is just as hardworking, and slightly more reliable and predictable than Lovren, but simply too slow to play full back. Liverpool looked even worse when Klavan came on for Matip and Moreno for Milner in the second half with Jamie Vardy shredding them at will. It was amazing Leicester did not draw level.
Until Liverpool work out their back four shortcomings the top four is the best they will ever do.
SALAH IS THE REAL DEAL
It’s very early days but Mo Salah looks to be the best buy Liverpool have made since Philippe Coutinho or even Luis Suarez – and well worth his £37million (Dh176.4m) price tag.
The 25-year-old has already scored twice in pre-season, given LFC a dynamism out wide that they have sorely been missing and his combination with the BB (Brazliian Brothers) Coutinho and Firmino is already electric.
His goal here was an absolute peach. He held the ball up on the right before crossing to Coutinho on the edge of the penalty area.
He then made a curving run into the box that Coutinho met with the sweetest of lobs.
As well as confirming the sound investment in picking up Salah it also underlines that Liverpool must do all possible to keep Barca’s hands off Coutinho, although the little magician’s extraordinary goal will make him even more enticing for the Blaugrana.
KLOPP HAS PLENTY OF OPTIONS BUT A DEARTH OF CLASS
The German manager will be pleased to win his first final for Liverpool at the third attempt, even if it is the Premier League Asian Trophy.
Klopp has used copious substitutes in each pre-season match so far – often swapping his entire XI for each half. What has been interesting is that both XIs are very similar in strength.
The second half team saw off Crystal Palace on Wednesday 2-0 while the star-studded first half team came back from 1-0 down to defeat Leicester.
Both teams lack that edge of class which Liverpool will need to compete at the top level in the EPL this year.
True we have not yet seen Sadio Mane, Liverpool’s most dangerous player, this season and his combination with Salah could be hard to contain but it’s not surprising Klopp keeps up his dogged pursuit of Van Dijk and the exceptional Naby Keita.
The Reds desperately need one or both of these players to be serious title contenders this season – without them its mix and match mediocrity.