In the Premier League’s season-opener, Liverpool got off to a comfortable start against newly-promoted Norwich – cruising to a 4-1 home win with Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Divock Origi all on the scoresheet.
After their frustrating Community Shield defeat last weekend, the Reds were quickly off the mark infront of 53,000 at Anfield in Friday night’s televised fixture. Norwich captain Grant Hanley, who made 31 Premier League appearances during an earlier Blackburn spell at the start of this decade, inadvertently broke the deadlock with an own goal after just eight minutes.
The defender sliced his attempted clearance into the bottom corner, leaving Tim Krul helpless from Divock Origi’s cross but things were soon going to worsen.
After 20 minutes, Liverpool doubled their lead with some fortune on their side as a succession of loose passes and deflections teed up Mohamed Salah inside the box, despite the visitors’ best efforts to clear their lines. He registered a whopping ten shots against champions City last weekend but only needed one to open his account for the campaign, coolly slotting home from close-range.
Norwich worked hard as a collective unit though their profligacy in the final third was undoubtedly hurting their chances of a comeback, one which decreased as time wore on. Van Dijk made it 3-0 before the half-hour mark from a poorly defended corner and Liverpool found themselves in cruise control without really getting out of second gear.
Goalkeeper Alisson limped off with a calf muscle injury, having landed awkwardly when distributing the ball forward from his box so on came summer acquisition Adrian – who they signed last week on a free transfer.
Origi made it 4-0 before the break, latching onto an inch-perfect Trent Alexander-Arnold delivery to head home unchallenged in the box – though the hosts could’ve easily had eight or nine by full-time with Roberto Firmino among those missing guilt-edge chances.
To Norwich’s credit though, they improved their efficiency and continued to trouble the Liverpool backline after half-time. 4-0 down with nothing to lose, Daniel Farke’s men were fearless and this infectious attitude increased across the pitch.
Emiliano Buendia and substitute Moritz Leitner both came close, before Teemu Pukki – who netted 29 goals and created 10 assists in last season’s Championship – reduced arrears with a clever finish beyond Adrian after 64 minutes.
That was as good as it got for the Canaries, during a match no-one truly expected them to win, though there are plenty of questions that need answering after being comprehensively beaten: even if it was against the European champions.
Liverpool too are not without their own doubts, which are likely to intensify once the season progresses. That was something both Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez stressed post-match, given competition for places and their desire to outdo last season’s result to pip Pep’s City side to ultimate glory this coming season.