Liverpool took all three points from their Premier League opener against new boys Norwich City on Friday night after a clinical first-half display effectively ended the game as a contest.
It took just seven minutes of action for the first Premier League goal of the season. Divock Origi had too much time and space on the left-hand side before his low cross was turned into his own net by Grant Hanley.
Mo Salah then got in on the act, scoring his first of the season as he looks to win back-to-back-to-back golden boots, finishing well after good link-up play with Roberto Firmino.
The Egyptian then turned provider, as his wicked corner was nodded home by Virgil Van Dijk after some shoddy defending in the Norwich area.
Liverpool’s first-half display was capped off by Origi. The Belgian forward headed past Tim Krul after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s delivery bisected the Norwich defence.
Despite being 4-0 up, the scoreline flattered the hosts. They were not at their fluent best and Norwich had come to Anfield to play, and often tested the Reds’ defence with a series of neat exchanges. To make matters worse for Liverpool, goalkeeper Alisson had to be substituted after a suspected calf tear. The initial thoughts are that he could be out for 4-8 weeks, a major blow for the Merseysiders as they look to finally end their Premier League title drought.
The Canaries got what they deserved when Teemu Pukki slotted home midway through the second half before the rest of the game petered out.
While Liverpool stole the spoils, Norwich can certainly be optimistic about their chances of survival this season after a very positive display. Very few teams come to Anfield and play with as little fear as they did, and while they certainly have to iron out some of their defensive deficiencies, Daniel Farke and his side have every chance of staying up this season. Liverpool, on the other hand, will need to be sharper in all aspects if they are to challenge Manchester City at the top of the table.
Who should partner Van Dijk?
While Joe Gomez performed okay, he was still not got back to his best after his leg injury last season. In his absence in the second half of last campaign, Joel Matip deputised to great effect and can consider himself hard done by to not be starting the season alongside Van Dijk. Gomez has not looked overly convincing, and so the Cameroon defender may find himself slotting back into the team in the coming weeks.
One to watch: Todd Cantwell
Given the 21-year-old Englishman’s limited experience, Norwich’s Todd Cantwell put in an excellent performance on a very difficult stage. His range of passing, tidy footwork and dribbling ability meant he was a thorn in Liverpool’s side all night. If he can improve his end product, he could well be an outside bet for the England Euro 2020 squad, given the lack of creative talent in the national team.
The attacking midfielder has only made 25 league appearances for Norwich, but he did not let the stage get to him, not looking out of place against the European Champions – and that is something he should take a great deal of confidence from.
Poor Simon Mignolet
Liverpool’s former back-up goalkeeper Simon Mignolet left the club in the last week of the transfer, window joining Belgian outfit Club Bruges in order to play first-team football. Just a few days later, Alisson gets injured for a significant amount of time and Mignolet would have got his chance had he stayed. However, Adrian, Mignolet’s replacement, is now going to be the first choice for Jurgen Klopp between the sticks. The Spaniard is a quality shot-stopper, but there was a noted amount of nervousness at Anfield on Friday night without Alisson’s calming presence. The Anfield faithful will be hopeful that Adrian will prove to be a more than able understudy to the Brazilian stopper.
A bit less naivety needed for Norwich
While the visitors should take a lot of pride from their display on Friday, they will certainly have to be more careful the next time they travel to one of the Premier League’s big boys. While one has to admire the attacking mentality they showed, too often their full-backs were caught too high up the pitch and were caught on the counter.
And the less said about their defending for Van Dijk’s goal, the better. While there is plenty to like about the Canaries going forward, they must shore up at the back to secure safety this season.
Can Liverpool go all the way?
Obviously, it is hard to judge exactly how well Liverpool can do this season after just one fixture, but winning 4-1 despite an unconvincing display is certainly not a bad sign. With Sadio Mane set to start next weekend, they will soon be back to their devastating best upfront, too. However, finding Van Dijk’s partner at the heart of defence should be a priority for Klopp, as the Reds have looked dodgy at the back in pre-season, and this continued into the game against Norwich. A better team could easily have scored three or four on a different night.
Liverpool are travelling to Istanbul for the UEFA Super Cup final against Chelsea on Wednesday night, before facing Southampton at St Mary’s on Saturday at 3pm. Norwich City play their first home game of the season against Newcastle United at the same time, looking to secure their first points of the season against a potential rival for Premier League survival.