Liverpool got their English Premier League campaign off to a winning start following a 4-1 win over newly-promoted Norwich City on Friday.
Four first half-goals from Mohamed Salah, Virgil Van Dijk and Divock Origi after an own goal from Norwich captain Grant Hanley gave Jurgen Klopp’s men an unassailable lead with the only stain on the night the loss of goalkeeper Alisson through a calf injury shortly before the break.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said: “There was actually nothing bad to say about the game apart from Alisson injury.”
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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.