Pre-season talking points: Eden Hazard and Loris Karius given fan backing

Liverpool and Chelsea stepped up their preparations for the Premier League campaign with victories over Torino and Lyon respectively in their final matches of pre-season.

In front of a packed Anfield, Liverpool beat Torino 3-1 with Roberto Firmino, Georginio Wijnaldum and Daniel Sturridge getting on the scoresheet, while Chelsea beat Lyon 5-4 on penalties at Stamford Bridge.

Liverpool host West Ham in the first Super Sunday game of the season, live on Sky Sports, while Chelsea face a trip to Huddersfield on Saturday.

Here are the talking points from their games on Tuesday…

Warm welcome for Karius

It must have been a long and difficult summer for Loris Karius after he made two costly mistakes in Liverpool’s 3-1 Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid.

His position in the side was then questioned, with Liverpool signing goalkeeper Alisson from Roma in a £67m deal.

Karius’ confidence has appeared a little shaken during pre-season but the positive reaction of the Liverpool fans when he came on for Alisson after 70 minutes will have given him a huge boost.

The Brazilian was given a standing ovation when he jogged off the field but the noise levels undoubtedly grew louder when Karius entered the fray as the Kop rose to give him their backing.

Willian wanted

Maurizio Sarri gave a very public backing to Willian by naming him captain for the friendly against Lyon.

Willian admitted on Monday that he was “very happy” at Chelsea, and it was a timely decision for Sarri to hand the 29-year-old not only his first start of pre-season, but also the armband amid interest from Barcelona and Manchester United.

The Brazilian was eager to shine while skippering the Blues, constantly searching for the ball as he looked to repay the faith shown in him by Sarri. But after seeing a free-kick well saved towards the end of the first half, the winger was one of 11 second-half changes, making way for Eden Hazard.

Liverpool’s strength in depth

A lack of depth hindered Liverpool’s chances in the Champions League final, while they only secured a top-four finish on the final day of the Premier League season last term with a win against Brighton.

This season, though, Liverpool look far better-equipped to compete on multiple fronts. On Tuesday’s evidence, Alisson, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri will all strengthen Klopp’s squad considerably.

Alisson had little to do on his Anfield bow against Torino but looked calm and composed throughout, while Fabinho demonstrated his versatility by playing in central midfield in the first half and at centre-back in the second.

Shaqiri enjoyed an outstanding debut by scoring an overhead kick against Manchester United and he was clever and inventive after coming on as a second-half substitute against Torino, supplying a sumptuous assist for Daniel Sturridge.

The performance of Sturridge will also give Klopp plenty to ponder as he looked fit and sharp in the second half, linking up with his team-mates well and scoring a well-taken goal.

Hazard feels the love

While Sarri gave his backing to Willian, it was the Stamford Bridge crowd that made their feelings known towards Hazard, offering the playmaker a rapturous applause when he came on.

Chelsea fans will be delighted to have seen Hazard feature, particularly when Thibaut Courtois once more failed to report to training.

Source.