The Reds returned to Premier League action and so too, finally, did the fans. A solid pre-season has served Jurgen Klopp‘s men well and Carrow Road saw the fruits of the labour with this very routine opening day win.
Norwich 0-3 Liverpool
Premier League, Carrow Road
August 14, 2021
Goals: Jota 26′ Firmino 65′ Salah 74′
Alisson Becker – 9 (out of 10)
There’s something forever comforting about seeing this big, bear of a man between the sticks. Cool, composed and as handsome as ever, Alisson looked as a steady as always.
Got down low to deny Teemu Pukki midway through the first half after Todd Cantwell’s searching dink, which helped steady the nerves of those around him. Hands like super glue from the corner balls and always keen to lash a quick goal-kick down field against the run of play to start a counter.
Sublime saves to deny Hanley and Gibson in the final five minutes summed up this performance. After a heartbreaking 12 months, Alisson looked refreshed and renewed here. He’ll be vital this season.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 8
It’s been a long summer for Trent and he’s had a painfully long amount of time to just sit and think.
Most players would be forgiven for returning with a bit of hesitation in their game, but there was nothing of the sort.
Strong coming out from the back and read the game maturely. Liverpool were the better team for most if not all of this match, and Alexander-Arnold helped see his side through nicely. No need for risks. A solid afternoon’s work.
Joel Matip – 7
Big Joel, as tall and as limby as ever before.
Watching him is often like viewing art. A complex, entwined abstract piece. You don’t really understand it but you just know it’s lovely, you know?
A few rusty moments when he had to be bailed out for a lapse in concentration but did his fair share of repayment in this department by hooking out long legs to clear through-balls which his teammates had missed.
While Ibrahima Konate or Joe Gomez will likely come in long-term, it’s always a welcome boost to have this man back.
Virgil van Dijk – 8
I’m going to level with you here reader… I came close to tears.
Dear god it’s felt like an age has passed since Van Dijk was gliding across the turf and shepherding the Liverpool back line.
Those deft touches, effortless aerial balls, commanding headers. I’ve missed them and I know you have to.
Didn’t have a great deal to do, and what he did do he did well. A nice easing back in to Premier League life which is everything all of us wanted.
Almost teed up Salah as the clock ticked towards 80 minutes, which would have been a dab of icing on the cake.
Kostas Tsimikas – 8
You know what, fair play Kostas. Fair play.
It was no secret that the Greek international would be coming in to fill in for Andy Robertson yet it still felt like he would be the weak link. Norwich probably thought just as much.
Yet rather than target the slender full-back, the Canaries often found themselves pegged back by him. Not afraid to run with the ball, loves an early cross, always keen for a quick interchange.
Few teething issues but promising signs. Fair play Kostas, lad. Keep it up.
James Milner – 7
Timeless as ever. Did what was asked of him and put himself about the pitch willingly.
Will there ever come a season when it looks like Milner is past it? I honestly don’t know.
Kept the Reds ticking over and never stopped shouting in the absence of Jordan Henderson.
His role is understated but it’s everything Klopp asks for. Huge hugs at the whistle signified as much.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6
Withdrawn on 60 minutes with his teeth grinding. This match didn’t play out for him as he was intending, but it’s more Premier League minutes in the tank for Ox and reassurance that he will get game-time this season.
Showed lots of willing, put himself all over the pitch and wasn’t afraid to shoot on sight. Little of it came off though, and he’ll know he can do better.
Still, it’s early days. And at least his skin fade and new curly blond locks were looking immaculate.
Naby Keita – 6
Didn’t do much at all wrong, yet didn’t do a whole lot to shout home about.
Every man and his dog knows that this is the make-or-break season for Naby, he has to start paying back that hefty transfer fee. Chances are available in the midfield this season after Wijnaldum’s departure and a lot of the less glamourous work has to be done.
Keita is more than capable. He nipped at heels and covered lots of grass, but looked like he was lacking rhythm. It’ll come… hopefully.
Mohamed Salah – 9
Two assists and a goal.
Salah never starts the season quietly and it was very much a case of here we go again.
Looked absolutely shredded after a gruelling pre-season and seems more than ready to dominate the division once again. Absolutely instrumental throughout.
Diogo Jota – 8
Anyone who thought his burst to prominence last season was a fluke needs only look back at the footage of this match.
Diogoal Slota as Jamie Carragher loves to bill him had had fewer touches than any other player on the field when he tucked home to break the deadlock. It was a slightly unfamiliar role for Jota down the middle with Salah and Mane flanking him, but he looked razor sharp and ready to pick up anything that fell his way.
It’s testament to Liverpool‘s fitness levels and accomplished pre-season campaign that he could be plucked off on the hour mark for a Bobby Firmino burning on all cylinders.
Sadio Mane – 8
Lots of running, looked a yard sharper than each of the Norwich back line.
Will be wanting to banish the demons of last season quickly, and what a way to start by playing a role in this win.
Nippy interchanges through the middle, particularly following the introduction of Firmino. Solid, and will get even better.
Roberto Firmino (on for Jota, 60′) – 8 – Who said he was past it? Great movement, looking fitter than ever before, rightly rewarded with a tidy goal.
Fabinho (on for Oxlade-Chamberlain, 60′) – 7 – Will get better with more match minutes as always, but solid and robust for his 30 minutes on the pitch.
Harvey Elliott (on for Keita, 82′) – 7 – Big season ahead for the ‘little diamond.’ Lovely reception from the away end. Didn’t have much time but always looks confident on the ball. Huge talent.
Subs not used: Konate, Gomez, Minamino, Origi, Woodburn, Kelleher
Jurgen Klopp – 9
Did brilliantly in mid-week by shutting down tedious talk about the need for signings.
Sure, this side would always welcome new faces and in the near future that will be the case… but when fully fit Liverpool have everything they need.
The big German looked born again on the touchline, following his extended break away. It’s done wonders. A healthy glow and the beaming grin was back… aside from a few barking moments due to misplaced passes or the officials widely snubbing Salah’s penalty appeals.
Never change Jurgen.