Reigning European champions Liverpool kicked off their Premier League campaign in tremendous style with a 4-1 win over newly promoted Norwich City.
Divock Origi forced an own-goal and scored another in the first half. Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk also got their names on the score-sheet with well-taken goals.
Teemu Pukki walked away with a consolation goal in the second half.
The team produced vintage display, but how did the players perform individually? We take a look.
Alisson – Good save to deny Marco Stiepermann from outside the area in the first half, substituted before half-time due to an injury. 6
Trent Alexander-Arnold – Had a tough time dealing with Todd Cantwell, but prevented the youngster from producing something dangerous. Delivered a perfect cross for Origi find the net. 7
Joe Gomez – Often played as the last man, with Van Dijk progressing forward. Produced a calm and composed display. 6
Van Dijk – Solid at the back as usual, headed home Salah’s cross from the corner to score Liverpool’s third. 8
Andrew Robertson – Stretched play and provided Origi freedom on the left, delivered some accurate crosses into the box but not his best day in defence. 6
Fabinho – Screened the defence well and orchestrated some promising moves, showed good signs of assuming a crucial role in midfield. 7
Georginio Wijnaldum – Has had better nights, lost a few duels and had Origi to thank for retrieving the ball on a few occasions. 6
Jordan Henderson – An average game from the captain, no noteworthy mistakes but nothing spectacular either. 6
Divock Origi – Forced an own-goal from Grant Hanley with a well-directed cross, found the net off Alexander-Arnold’s cross later in the first half. 7
Roberto Firmino – Missed a sitter but had a great game otherwise; linked well with Salah and set him up for Liverpool’s second. 8
Mohamed Salah – Opened his account for the season with a neat finish, delivered an inch-perfect cross for Van Dijk to head. 8
Adrian – Could have done better in positioning himself against Pukki’s goal. 5
Sadio Mane – A lively cameo from the Senegalese forward but slightly slacked off in the final third. 6
James Milner – Came on for the last five minutes. N/A
Liverpool endured a surprisingly inactive transfer window following their Champions League triumph in Madrid.
17-year-old defender Sepp van den Berg and goalkeeper Adrian were the only two players to arrive at Anfield ahead of the 2019/20 season, while the likes of Simon Mignolet, Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno, and Harry Wilson were some big names from the departure list.
It appears that Jurgen Klopp has faith in the Champions League winning squad and the academy, but is the squad competent enough to put an end to Liverpool’s 30-year-long wait to win the Premier League?
We take a deeper look at the squad and grade the different departments.
GOALKEEPERS – A
An incredible show in the Premier League, Champions League, and the Copa America has earned Alisson the tag of the best goalkeeper in the world this year. The Brazilian custodian will be motivated to play his part in leading the Merseyside Reds to their first-ever Premier League title.
Former West Ham custodian Adrian will be replacing Mignolet on the bench. The Spanish goalkeeper has the traits to function as a back-up keeper.Like most top teams, Liverpool will be eyeing multiple trophies. This means that Adrian could be called into action frequently. The 32-year-old’s experience in the Premier League could come handy as Liverpool look to snatch the domestic cups.
The Reds have one of the best goalkeeping pairings in the league and should face no problems in this department.
DEFENCE – B
A glance at Liverpool’s sturdy centre-backs and robust full-backs could call for an A or even an A+. But the lack of depth in defence – especially in the left-back position – could cause a lot of worry towards the business end of the season.
It’s worth noting that the Reds have arguably the best back-four in the league, led by the best defender in Europe. Van Dijk and Joe Gomez have formed a wall in front of goal that has rarely been breached by the best players in the world.
Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have been regular sources of assists without compromising on their defensive duties.
But the back-up defenders are not close to the incredibly high bar that the starters have set.
Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren make an average duo at best, as far as back-up centre-backs are concerned.
Right-back Nathaniel Clyne is currently injured and has not enjoyed enough game-time over the past couple of seasons. Klopp has preferred having midfielder James Milner at right-back on the rare occasions in which Alexander-Arnold was unavailable.
Robertson is left with no back-up on the left. Former Real Betis full-back Junior Firpo was linked to, but never pursued by Liverpool. This means that academy player Yasser Larouci is the closest that comes to a back-up left-back.
MIDFIELD – B
Liverpool has fielded one of the most unpredictable midfields in the world and continue to carry the badge going into the 2019/20 season.
Fabinho overcame a woeful start to his Liverpool career to establish himself as a key element to the midfield towards the end of last season. The Brazilian could be their most important player in midfield next season and is hence bound to be heavily burdened with responsibilities.
Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson are expected to retain their position as starters in midfield, with James Milner and Naby Keita providing stiff competition.
Wijnaldum and Keita have had their moments but have failed to display consistency over an entire season.
Henderson and Milner have been fairly consistent but the pair isn’t getting any younger. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain will be looking to make a mark after an injury-ridden season but the former Arsenal youngster will have to work to earn his spot in the midfield first.
Summing up, Liverpool could have done better in reinforcing their midfield and inactivity in the transfer window could come back to haunt them.
ATTACK – B+
The deadly trio of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino will return to terrorise Premier League in the 2019/20 season.
Not much can be said about Liverpool’s front three that hasn’t been said already. Mane is back from arguably the best season of his career and will be looking to top it.
Salah did well in turning his form around in December last season and will be key to their chances yet again. Xherdan Shakiri will be providing depth at this position, with the option of shifting to central midfield too.
Sturridge’s departure from the club is likely to promote Divock Origi and academy product Rhian Brewster up the pecking order with Firmino retaining his spot as first-choice.
The lack of back-up for Mane could cause problems, given how vital the Senegalese forward is to Liverpool’s attack. Yet again, the Reds could have signed a winger who could help them through cup games during harsh scheduling.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp wants his team to stay “angry and greedy” as they bid to go one better than last season and lift the Premier League trophy.
Klopp’s side ended last season as European champions but the goal this time around has to be ending a 30-year wait for a top-flight title after falling just one point short of Manchester City in a tense battle.
While his players tasted success in Madrid in June, Klopp wants no let up in their attitude as they look to build on a season in which they lost only one league game.
It’s the new season again,” he said. “We have to be angry again, we have to be greedy again, we have to be all these things.
“What’s very important is that as the team that won the Champions League last year, we have to stay the team that nobody wants to play against.
“Not because of the name or the quality but the intensity. That’s what I will ask the boys for and that’s what we have to show tomorrow night.”
An opening-night fixture against newly-promoted Norwich will mean plenty of familiar faces at Anfield for Klopp.
Canaries boss Daniel Farke moved to Carrow Road from Borussia Dortmund’s reserve team in 2017, and has imported a number of players from Klopp’s old club.
“I don’t think I’ve faced a Premier League side before where I’ve worked with so many of the players,” he said. “When they were really young, of course.”
Liverpool are of course overwhelming favourites on home turf, but Klopp admitted strange things can happen at the start of a new season.
“For them, winning the Championship was for us like winning the Champions League – it’s so long ago you can’t really build on it but both teams have reasons to be confident,” he said.
“They were really special for a Championship team last year with the way they played. There was a clear structure, a clear plan. There was little coincidence in the game because everything looked properly planned out so they have all my respect.
“In these kinds of fixtures, with all the stories around them, they are always the banana skins. They are made for something like that.
“If you are not ready for it, if you are not 100 per cent, then you will slip. They are too good for that.”
Liverpool last weekend lost the Community Shield to Manchester City on penalties, but were without Sadio Mane after his late return from a busy summer.
The Senegal forward is fit and available for Friday’s match, if not a guaranteed starter.
“He only had two weeks off so he didn’t lose a lot, that’s the good news,” Klopp said.
“Yesterday was his first session with the team and he looks absolutely OK and in good spirits and looking forward to it. He’s an option so we will see.”
Liverpool have had a quiet summer in the transfer market, bringing in youngsters Sepp Van Den Berg and Harvey Elliott as well as reserve goalkeeper Adrian, while preferring to focus on the boost provided by the return from injury of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana.
Klopp declined to say if the Reds have been offered their former midfielder Philippe Coutinho as the Barcelona man was linked with Arsenal and Tottenham, but said he was happy with his squad.
“Our transfer window was about checking options and thinking about it and then making decisions,” he said.
“That’s how we always do it. And if nothing happens then the decision was that it was not the right option for us. We will not make signings just to sign somebody because that makes no sense.”
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