Liverpool vs. Norwich
Friday, August 9, 2019 – 8pm (BST)
Referee: Michael Oliver
Right then, here we go again.
A relatively low-key summer and pre-season has been and gone since Jurgen Klopp‘s side secured European Cup number six—now it’s time to focus on league commitments.
Liverpool did themselves proud in taking Man City all the way to the final day last season, but 97 points somehow wasn’t enough in the end.
A similarly freakish level of consistency is required in 2019/20, as the Reds look to finally end that horrible 30-year wait for a league title.
Heading to Merseyside on Friday are an exciting Norwich team—one who clinched the Championship title last season under the tutelage of Daniel Farke.
On paper, this should be about as one-sided as it gets on the opening night of the season, but the Canaries must not be underrated.
They will likely raise their game on a special evening for the club and Klopp’s men need to be ruthless in front of an expectant crowd.
Liverpool’s performance in the Community Shield was one of a team clicking at just the right time, despite losing on penalties to City—that bodes well ahead of the visit of Norwich.
Klopp has almost a full squad to choose from. Sadio Mane is in contention to start, despite arriving back for training later than his team-mates, but he may be on the substitutes’ bench.
Rhian Brewster is looking to make his mark this season and he could represent an exciting option off the bench.
Farke is without Timm Klose, Christoph Zimmermann and Alex Tettey, explaining on Thursday that his side “have just two centre-backs and one natural defensive midfielder.”
Last 5 at Home to Norwich (All Competitions)
Drew 1-1 – September 2015 (Ings; Martin)
Won 5-1 – December 2013 (Suarez x4, Sterling; Johnson)
Won 5-0 – January 2013 (Henderson, Suarez, Sturridge, Gerrard, Bennett OG)
Drew 1-1 – October 2011 (Bellamy; Holt)
Won 3-0 – September 2004 (Baros, Garcia, Cisse)
The Canaries are always a welcome addition to the top flight, playing an attractive brand of football and possessing a classic old-school stadium in Carrow Road.
Norwich have thrived with Farke at the helm, following the 42-year-old’s move from Borussia Dortmund II to East Anglia in 2017.
If a 14th-placed finish in his first season was adequate, what the Canaries achieved in 2018/19 was magnificent.
They topped the Championship table with 94 points, losing just six times in arguably the most competitive league in Europe.
Teemu Pukki was the star man, leading the goalscoring charts with 30 goals, but there were several outstanding performers, from Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis at the back to Marco Stiepermann in midfield.
A productive summer in the transfer window has seen a number of good players acquired, not least on-loan Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann and Switzerland striker Josip Drmic.
Norwich may still be among the favourites to be relegated this season, but they look better equipped than others to beat the drop.
Did You Know?
Liverpool are unbeaten in their last five opening Premier League matches.
Their last defeat came in August 2012, when Brendan Rodgers suffered a dreadful first league game as manager, losing 3-0 at West Brom.
Philippe Coutinho scored a beauty to nick a win at Stoke in 2015/16 and a stunning 4-3 triumph at Arsenal saw 2016/17 start with a bang—who else remembers Klopp giving Mane a piggyback at the Emirates?
Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Thursday, Klopp insisted Norwich will be a tough proposition, as he comes up against a number of former players:
“They are really special for a Championship team, what they were last year, because the way they played: clear structure, clear plan, little coincidences in the game, everything looks properly planned. They have all my respect.
“But these kinds of fixtures, with all the stories around, are always like the proper banana skins.
“It’s like it’s made for something like that if you are not aware of it. If you don’t go 100 percent in a game like this, you will slip 100 percent.
“They are too good for that, that’s a good team, the funny thing is with that I don’t think I’ve ever faced a Premier League team where I’ve worked together with so many players before!
“So that’s really nice. They were really young [at Dortmund], yes, but I still know them.”
TV & Liveblog Info
Ben Twelves is in charge of This Is Anfield’s matchday liveblog, keeping you up-to-date with events from 7.15pm.