Preview: Liverpool v Norwich, Premier League

Anfield is the venue for the opening game of the new Premier League season in England

Will Reilly previews Liverpool v Norwich (Friday, 8pm, Sky Sports Main Event & Sky Sports Premier League ROI), the opening game of the new Premier League season

The 2019-20 Premier League season begins at Anfield on Friday August 9th with Liverpool v Norwich. Kick-off, 8pm.

Liverpool to start season in style – Will Reilly

OVERVIEW:

Liverpool had a fine season in 2018-19, finishing second in the Premier League to Man City and winning the Champions League final.

It still seems bizarre that a team could accumulate 97 Premier League points and still finish second in the table. That’s evidence of the high standard that Pep Guardiola’s Man City side has now set and they will be bidding for a third-successive league title.

Liverpool will be looking for a nineteenth English league title, but their first since 1990, something they are desperate to put right.

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Liverpool are desperate to get their hands on the Premier League trophy for the first time in their illustrious history

 

Of course, winning last season’s Champions League final rounded off Liverpool’s season in style and they will approach the season with confidence. They could hardly have wished for a better fixture to start things off – at home on a Friday night against a promoted side from the Championship.

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All looks good then for the Reds, although manager Jürgen Klopp voiced concerns ahead of last Sunday’s FA Community Shield over Liverpool having to start the season on a Friday, particularly given that they ended their season much later than most other teams owing to their Champions League involvement.

He would have preferred his side to have had “two more days of preparation”.

Liverpool’s success has also led to them having a hectic first month this time around, with their matches including the FA Community Shield and the UEFA Super Cup clash with Chelsea on August 14th. They will also be involved in the FIFA World Club Cup in Qatar in December.

Success has bred such “problems” – which is a problem most sides would be glad to have – although one can see Jürgen’s point, particularly when you add in the fact that Brazilians Roberto Firminho and Alisson Becker were involved in Copa America and Sadio Mané (where his country, Senegal, reached the final) and Mo Salah were involved in the post-season Africa Cup Of Nations.

Just for good measure, Virgil van Dijk and Georgino Wijnaldum played in the Nations League following their Champions League exploits.

Overloading Premier League clubs has been a point of contention for a while now and will surely be revisited again soon. On a positive note, Liverpool looked strong against Man City in the second-half of the Community Shield after City, who eventually won the game on penalties, had dominated the first 35 minutes. Crisis? What crisis?

As such, Liverpool look to be in good shape ahead of Friday night and have no injury concerns other than Nathaniel Clyne’s absence owing to a cruciate ligament injury.

Aside from signing goalkeeper Adrian (who replaces Club Brugge-bound Simon Mignolet) and a couple of teenagers in Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliott, Liverpool have been fairly quiet in the summer transfer market, although their squad was strong to start with.

Keeping key players like Van Dijk, Alisson, Robertson and their trio of attackers fit will be important and will make this Liverpool side, once again, more than a match for anyone. The talented and versatile Joe Gomez’s return from injury is a big boost.

They will, though, have to manage raised expectations this season – another by-product of success. Again, that’s a nice “problem” to have.

Virgil van Dijk: a key player for Liverpool

 

Norwich took the Championship by storm last season, which they won by accumulating 94 points, five more than second-placed Sheffield United, and scoring 93 goals.

They have released 14 players in the close season and, whilst not having spent extravagantly, have acquired a number of players, including goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann from FC Schalke, right-back Sam Byram from West Ham, centre-forward Josip Drmic from Borussia Mönchengladbach and Patrick Roberts (again) on loan from Man City.

They will be up against it this season but, with manager Daniel Farke proving himself both shrewd and motivational (a bit like his compatriot Jürgen Klopp), we are set for an intriguing opening game of the Premier League season 2019-20.

 

Norwich head coach Daniel Farke

 

FORM:  

Liverpool won 14 of their last 15 games of the season in all competitions (only Barcelona beat them, 3-0 in a Champions League semi-final) and 18 of their last 24 (drawing five).

They only lost one Premier League game all season (2-1 at Man City on Jan 3rd), winning 30 of their 38 matches. They won their last seven home league matches, scoring 23 goals and keeping five clean sheets.

As mentioned earlier, Norwich went up as champions with 94 points accumulated and 93 goals scored. They lost just one of their last 20 league matches, although both teams scored in the last six of them. In fact, they kept just three clean sheets in their last 13 league matches of the campaign.

 

TEAM NEWS:

Liverpool:

Other than Nathaniel Clyne, Liverpool have a clean bill of health following news that James Milner, who missed Sunday’s Community Shield, is likely to be fit for Friday. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana and Joe Gomez are also fit following injury-hit 2018-19 campaigns.

Joe Gomez: his return from injury is good news for Liverpool

Norwich:

Key defender Christoph Zimmermann picked up a knee injury post-season and will be out for at least the first couple of Premier League games, although his rehab is progressing nicely.

Club captain Grant Hanley is okay following a groin injury and Mario Vrancic recently made a return from long-term injury. Alex Tettey missed most of pre-season owing to a calf injury.

Despite picking up pre-season knocks, Teemu Pukki, Emi Buendia and Marco Stiepermann all look likely to be available for the trip to Anfield.

 

VERDICT/TIPS:

It has to be a Liverpool win, although they are a short price (1/7)

A score of 3-0 is suggested (5/1), with Mo Salah (15/20) a confident selection to score at any time in the game. He is 10/3 to score first, which may also be worth a play.

The Reds look set to get off to a flying start.



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