Mane and Keita net as preparations begin

Ahead of the Premier League’s June 17th restart date, players have been training at an empty Anfield in an attempt to adjust to future surroundings.

Inside a fan-less Anfield stadium, Liverpool players faced off in an 11-a-side fixture on Monday morning.

The surreal session was proposed by coach Jurgen Klopp with the ambition of players adapting to life without the roaring Reds faithful in their corner.

In what was a makeshift glimpse as to how the league’s remaining fixtures will look, Liverpool took to their fabled home turf for the first time since a two-one victory over Bournemouth in early March.

The squad posed for a picture to support the ongoing #blacklivesmatter campaign, before splitting into two sides.

In red: Alisson; Hoever, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Jones, Hendo, Keita; Elliott, Firmino, and Mane.

In black: Adrian; Trent, Lovren, Gomez, Larouci; Ox, Fabinho, Milner; Salah, Minamino, and Origi.

In an afternoon session predicted to be marred by 26-degree heat, LFC’s finest were far from sluggish. Ever competitive, players competed for every ball, didn’t shy from tackles, and showed that their home training hadn’t been in vein.

The red team took the lead after Sadio Mane and Naby Keita combined to fire past ‘keeper Adrian.

The side doubled their lead in the second half.

A neat pass from a 70’s-styled Roberto Firmino teed up Mane perfectly, leaving the Senegalese winger to easily round Adrian and pass the ball into an empty net.

The game would finish at two-nil, with arguably the stronger side defending resolutely to grind out their victory and a clean sheet to boot.

A noticeably stronger-looking Naby Keita took the plaudits in this fixture, helping himself to the first goal and running circles around his teammates for the remainder.

Having previously finding himself the subject of criticism for regular injuries and weakness on the ball, Keita has clearly spent his lockdown time well. And in improving his strength, the Guinean might now be better suited to the physical demands of the Premier League.

Keita will be just one of many needed for a strong finish to a Premier League campaign that will likely see Liverpool crowned champions for the first time in 30 years.

We might not be able to take to the streets just yet, but the celebrations will have their day, one day soon.

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