2019/2020 Premier League Opener: Liverpool 4 – Norwich 2

Liverpool got their new Premier League season on the front foot last night with a 4-1 demolition of Norwich, one of the new returnees to the league. Divock Origi, Virgil van Dijk, Mohammed Salah were all on the score board in the cracker, but Teemu Pukki was able to pull one back for Norwich. Liverpool also suffered a payed for the win with Alisson Becker, the Liverpool outstanding goalkeeper suffering an injury. It is not certain how long he would be out.

Football pundits are of the opinion that should Liverpool play like this all season they may or may not win the Premier League. On the other hand, if Norwich play like this all season they will most certainly go back to where they are coming from. Liverpool’s season is up and running impressively. They will feel with some justification that a marker has been laid down before champions Manchester City. They scored four in the first half and could and should have scored at least two or three more after that. Liverpool were busy and purposeful and, importantly, looked fresh.

Norwich, though, were so compliant as to be almost deliberately complicit. So open were Daniel Farke’s team on their return to the top division that they invited every single piece of the catastrophic trouble that came their way. At the end, they will have been desperately relieved that the margin of defeat was only three. With minutes left, a streaker appeared from the Norwich end and ran towards the Kop. He fell flat on his face and it felt appropriate.

Sportsmail reports that an early own goal from Norwich captain Grant Hanley, two full backs who were so advanced they were almost in Stanley Park and some marking so negligent it was borderline embarrassing. That was the story of Norwich’s night. Goals arrived comfortably and predictably for Liverpool from Mo Salah, Virgil van Dijk and then the impressive Divock Origi. Norwich created chances too — especially early on — and they may seek to take comfort from that. But they really shouldn’t.

Those early forays were long forgotten by the end of the night, even if they did manage a consolation from Teemu Pukki in a second half that Liverpool dominated almost completely.
With No 1 goalkeeper Alisson taken off with what looked like a muscle injury with the score at 3-0, this was not a perfect night for Jurgen Klopp and his team. Klopp will await the medical bulletin anxiously. But for Norwich, hard lessons were learned. The promoted team was brave, ambitious and progressive early on but also far too open. In trying to play the European champions on their own terms, Norwich came with a game plan that simply could not work.
The home team were without Sadio Mane, not yet fully fit, but in his place was a confident Origi, a young player who is beginning to look as though he belongs.

Here he was involved in the first goal and it was calamitous for Norwich. Two minutes earlier, Marco Stiepermann had missed a good chance and was to have another before long which again flew over. But in between came the bad news. Origi’s low cross arrived at the feet of Hanley in the seventh minute and he somehow managed to slice it backwards, across goalkeeper Tim Krul and in to the far corner of the net. Pukki almost wriggled clear in the 15th minute and it needed a sharp tackle from Joe Gomez to block him. Then Gomez, fit again but a little hesitant after knee trouble, played Trent Alexander-Arnold clear inside left back Jamal Lewis who had advanced too far and when three Norwich defenders couldn’t clear, Roberto Firmino slid in Salah who slipped his first goal of the season beneath Krul and in to the net. With 75 minutes still to go, this was a game that looked over. Still Norwich kept playing their football and only once the third goal came in the 28th minute did the spirit really leave them.

A Salah corner from the left was a routine affair but Lewis failed to apply any pressure on Van Dijk and the central defender headed in without even having to get off the ground. Krul, at least, was doing his bit, saving well from a Firmino volley and a Jordan Henderson cross-shot. But the keeper was helpless again three minutes before half-time when Origi was allowed to drift in between Max Aarons and Hanley to head in another goal.

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