Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Michael Oliver
Date & Time – Friday, August 9th @ 20:00
Current Odds – Liverpool 1/7, Draw 7/1, Norwich City 14/1
The Premier League returns this Friday night as newly-promoted Norwich City visit Anfield to take on the current European champions, Liverpool.
The Canaries won the Championship title to gain promotion last May having scored 93 goals and conceded 57 over their 46 league games. That’s an average of over 3.2 goals per game involving Norwich last season. And that was in the second tier of English football.
It’s safe to say we can expect goals at Anfield on Friday.
Liverpool drew 1-1 with Manchester City in last Sunday’s Community Shield at Wembley. City won the penalty shootout 5-4 after The Reds had dominated play in the second half but couldn’t get that second goal to win the game.
However, the most important thing from Sunday was how Jurgen Klopp’s side responded after City had threatened to go in at least two or three goals in front at half-time.
After the break, Liverpool took City apart with the European champions pinning the Premier League title-holders back in their own half for almost the full 45 minutes.
Liverpool’s pre-season results had many worried about how ill-prepared they were for the coming season. Sunday’s Community Shield performance should have eased many of those concerns.
Norwich City Form
Daniel Farke’s side played six summer friendlies – winning three, drawing one and losing two. The victories were against Schalke, Luton Town and Toulouse while they lost to Atalanta of Serie A and Brentford. They drew their first pre-season fixture 2-2 with Arminia Bielefeld.
This is Norwich’s first taste of Premier League football since their relegation in May 2016.
Liverpool Team News
Nathaniel Clyne is Liverpool’s only current long-term injury absentee. The right-back suffered an ACL injury over the summer and is not due back until February at the earliest.
James Milner was not risked in the Community Shield due to a minor muscle injury but the veteran midfielder should be available for selection on Friday.
Sadio Mané only returned to full training this week and it’s completely at Klopp’s discretion if he feels the Senegalese forward is fit enough to play any part against Norwich. Mané has scored on the last three opening days for The Reds, though. Klopp could be tempted to risk him.
Joe Gomez started in defence against City with Joel Matip coming off the bench to score the second-half equaliser. Klopp has a decision to make between those two.
In midfield, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita are my tips to start.
Norwich City Team News
Christoph Zimmerman is out for Norwich. The defender has a knee injury and could be back before the end of August. He’ll miss the first couple of games this season, though.
Timm Klose and Alexander Tettey are on the way back from injury and should be fit for their trip to Anfield.
Daniel Farke played a 4-2-3-1 formation for the most part of last season in the Championship. It will be interesting to see if he applies a similar shape for their Premier League return this weekend.
Sam Byram (West Ham) and Josip Drmic (Borussia Monchengladbach) are two of the more notable signings Farke made over the summer.
Ralf Fahrmann (Schalke) was also signed and the 30-year-old goalkeeper will battle it out with Tim Krul for the number one spot for Norwich.
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Norwich City XI (4-2-3-1) – Krul; Aarons, Klose, Godfrey, Lewis; McLean, Vrancic; Buendia, Stiepermann, Hernandez; Pukki
WHEN THEY LAST MET
How could we forget the last meeting between the sides? Liverpool won an enthralling match 5-4 at Carrow Road in January 2016.
Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Bobby Firmino were the only three Liverpool starters that day who are still at the club.
Firmino scored twice, Henderson and Milner bagged one each and Adam Lallana came off the bench to get the winner deep into injury-time.
The sides drew 1-1 in their last Anfield meeting, in September 2015. It was one of Brendan Rodgers’ last games as Liverpool manager.
Danny Ings gave The Reds the lead before Norwich’s Russell Martin scored the equaliser.
Liverpool 4 – 0 Norwich City
Much has changed since the sides last met in 2016. Liverpool have evolved into one of the best teams on the continent. Jurgen Klopp’s side will most likely be the only realistic challenger to Manchester City in the Premier League again this season.
While Daniel Farke also has Norwich on an excellent upward curve, the gulf between the sides is great and Liverpool must make that difference count on Friday night. Anything less than a win would be a poor start to The Reds’ season.
Mohamed Salah also looked sharp against City on Sunday – getting into countless goalscoring positions. His finishing will improve as the season progresses again. Starting, hopefully, with a couple on Friday night.