The Community Shield is a Glorified Friendly - But it's Liverpool's Chance to Set the Record Straigh

Since mid-June we've had 92 Premier League games, 26 European ties and an unsolicited Lionel Messi transfer saga shoved down our throats without so much as a chance to catch our breath.

It's been enthralling, but it's also been exhausting. Ahead of Saturday's curtain-raiser at Wembley, both Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta, much like the rest of us, will tell you they could use a break.

The 2020 Community Shield comes less than four weeks after Arsenal won the FA Cup against Chelsea. Liverpool have had the luxury of a five-week layoff since dismissing Newcastle at St James' Park, yet both teams have spent the past fortnight preparing for a game no-one, really, can be arsed with.

It has been characterised by Klopp as the halfway point of pre-season, which summarises both the declining prestige of tomorrow's showpiece and the bizarre situation we find ourselves in. But while we may now feel as if we could see it far enough, ask us again once the build-up is finished and the teams run out of the Wembley tunnel late tomorrow afternoon.

The players sent out by Arsenal, after all, will relish the chance to add more silverware to their freshly-polished cabinet and keep the Arteta snowball rolling heading into his first full season. But you get the impression it is of greater significance to Liverpool, who have one or two questions to answer after the way last season ended.

The Reds ended their 30-year wait for a top-flight title, but their pace slowed with the finish line in sight. Manchester City, famously, tore the Reds asunder, a result that has Pep Guardiola's team installed as marginal favourites for next season's title.

Signs of weakness in a previously invincible team were evident pre-lockdown; Atlético Madrid ended the dream of successive Champions Leagues, while Watford...well, that needs no introduction.

Arsenal themselves even had a slice mid-July, so while Saturday's encounter may represent a glorified friendly contested largely between the young and untested members of each squad, it's a palate-cleanser for Liverpool, who can wash the bad taste out of their mouths and set the record straight ahead of the real business starting in two weeks' time.

Klopp has already fielded criticism for his decision not to field his big guns this weekend, but it's a strategy which has worked for him in the past. The frequent deployment of academy talent in the domestic cups last season directly resulted in the emergence of Neco Williams and Curtis Jones, who had a number of coming-of-age performances, and can now consider themselves first-team players.

If the Merseyside Derby was Jones' arrival and the EFL Cup win over Arsenal was Williams', then Saturday presents an opportunity for someone else to seize the stage. Rhian Brewster, who scored three of Liverpool's five goals against Stuttgart and Salzburg in pre-season, may fancy his chances, while the prodigious Harvey Elliott is yet to get off the mark for the first team despite impressing in his limited opportunities.

With their first title defence in 30 years on the horizon, it's a big season ahead for Liverpool, so any small advantage that can be gained at this early stage should be grasped with both hands. Winning the Community Shield may not be the biggest or most pressing concern, but it is an opening to ease themselves back into things and set the tone early on.

At the expense of the Gunners, they can clean their slate, while simultaneously testing the credentials of the likes of Brewster, Elliott and others who will be desperate to contribute as much as they can in a condensed 2020/21 schedule.

Anticipation may not be through the roof, and Klopp may be playing it cool - but lying ahead is a deceptively important 90 minutes.

Source : 90min