Liverpool began their 2019-20 Premier League campaign in style, seeing off newly promoted Norwich City in a comfortable 4-1 win on Friday.
The Premier League curtain raiser started out as an end-to-end affair, with Norwich taking the game to Liverpool. The hosts though, ended up taking the lead in the seventh minute, when the Canaries’ captain, Grant Hanley turned the ball into his own net in an attempt to clear Divock Origi’s low cross.
Norwich, however, were not taking the blows lying down, as they created two openings through Marco Stiepermann and Teemu Pukki. But, Liverpool were the ones who found the back of the net once again, with Mohamed Salah produced a neat finish after being put through on goal by Roberto Firmino.
Norwich continued posing a threat on the other end, with Alisson being forced into a save from Stiepermann’s drive. But, the big defensive holes left at the back would cost them dear for a third time, as Virgil van Dijk easily headed in from Salah’s corner.
Liverpool were dealt a major blow towards the end of the first half as Alisson picked up an injury after slipping while taking a goal kick. However, they were soon four to the good in the 42nd minute, when Origi grabbed a goal for himself, heading in from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross.
After coming out from the break, Liverpool were not resting on their laurels, as Jordan Henderson was denied by Tim Krul. But, the Reds would see a goal being pulled back, when Pukki calmly slotted the ball past debutant Adrian after being put through on goal by Emiliano Buendia.
The game would subsequently not see any further goals, although Krul did deny Alexander-Arnold with a stunning save. Liverpool though, have laid down the marker in the Premier League title race with a comfortable win, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
An uncharacteristic error that saw him give the ball away to Teemu Pukki was far from an ideal start to the season for Alisson. But, he soon reverted to type, making a solid save to deny Marco Stiepermann.
His night ended in misery though, as the Brazilian went off injured in the first half. Liverpool fans and Jurgen Klopp would be hoping he is not sidelined for a long time, with Alisson being a key presence at the back for the Reds.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7/10
As had been the case during the Community Shield tie against Manchester City, Alexander-Arnold found the going to be tough on Friday, with the Norwich attack finding plenty of joy in behind him. On the other end, however, the Englishman was in his elements, providing the assist for Origi’s goal while seeing his effort being saved by Tim Krul. Needs to improve defensively.
Joe Gomez: 6/10
In what was his first Premier League start of 2019, Gomez was not quite at his best. Did start the move that led to Salah’s goal, but he could not find his feet against Pukki, at times. Among those culpable for Norwich’s goal as he let his marker – Pukki – slip past him.
Virgil van Dijk: 8/10
Liverpool’s defensive leader was not quite at his best at the back on Friday. But, even while being just par for the course, by his lofty standards, van Dijk was a cut above the rest and led the way in terms of interceptions (5). Capped off a decent performance with a goal, coolly nodding in from Salah’s corner.
Andrew Robertson: 7/10
Like the rest of his partners at the back, Robertson does not seem to have hit his stride yet. The Scot though, was his industrious self, hustling his way at the back while being the chief creator for the hosts on the night.
The left-back had the most touches (96) and made the most passes (70) on the night, while sending in a number of probing passes that had the Norwich defenders on their toes. Should ideally improve defensively from hereon out.
Jordan Henderson: 7/10
When Norwich were looking to pile on the heat on Liverpool and take the game to them, it was Henderson who led by example, looking to ease the pressure by playing first-time passes and spraying the ball forward precisely – he completed the most long balls among outfield players (6).
A bundle of energy, the Liverpool captain covered every blade of grass, looking to harry his opponent when off the ball. Denied a spectacular goal with an equally splendid save by Krul. A solid start to the season, nevertheless.
With Norwich heaping the pressure early on, Fabinho seemed to have started nervily, struggling to keep a check on Stiepermann. But, once he found his feet, there was no way past the Brazilian, who had the most tackles on the night (7). Showed once again what he brings to the team – a sense of calm in the middle of the park.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 6/10
Not the best of starts to the season for Wijnaldum, who was one of the quietest players on the pitch. Helped the team in transition, but struggled to get involved much, a far cry from his busy self. Needs to do better, with Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner breathing down his neck.
Mohamed Salah: 9/10
Salah in unstoppable on Fridays!
— Goal India (@Goal_India) August 10, 2019
Salah started the game slowly and was not involved much in the initial exchanges. But, after being found by Firmino for his goal, the Egyptian burst into life and was a constant nightmare for the Norwich defenders. Even got an assist for himself when van Dijk headed in from his corner. Looks sharp and high on confidence as he begins his pursuit for a third Premier League Golden Boot.
Roberto Firmino: 9/10
Firmino might not have a goal to show for his efforts. But, he was just as key to Liverpool’s win as Salah. As unselfish as ever, he laid the clever pass which was converted by Salah. The Brazilian made the most recoveries on the night (5), not letting the Norwich defenders have a moment’s rest.
When he is in such spirit, there is absolutely no one who brings more value to the team than Firmino, and his early season form certainly bodes well for Liverpool. Deserved a goal for his efforts and deserved the standing ovation he received after being subbed off late on.
Divock Origi: 8/10
With Sadio Mane on the verge of returning to action, Origi needed to make a statement to ensure he remained an important player for Klopp. And, the Belgian did just that, forcing the early own goal before grabbing one for himself with a deft header. Still not quite a finished article, but continues to make an impact for the Merseysiders.
Would hardly have envisioned getting his Liverpool debut in the first game of the season. Had barely anything to do apart from making two regulation saves, although he did look comfortable on the ball. Will be disappointed to have conceded the goal in the second half, but now has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, with Alisson sidelined.
Sadio Mane: 6/10
Given 15 minutes on the pitch, Mane was sprightly in his cameo, but saw his record of scoring in every season opener as a Liverpool player ending. Edging closer to his first start of the season.
James Milner: N/A
Milner barely had a touch on the ball during his five minutes on the pitch.