It’s back at Anfield.
No, not Big Ears, though prepare for a roar when that sparkling piece of joy is paraded around the stadium. But Premier League football is back after a long summer to recover from the emotional roller-coaster of last season, ans we’re ready to start all over again.
It all starts on Friday night under the lights at Anfield against newly promoted Norwich City. Liverpool go into it after a mixed preseason, some worrying signs on the US tour with a leaky defence exposed on multiple occasions contributed to not picking up one win. This was compounded by a 3-0 hammering at the hands of Napoli at the Murrayfield Stadium. Any panic was put to rest with an emphatic 3-1 win over Lyon, followed by an impressive second half against Manchester City in the Community Shield at Wembley.
The big surrounding hysteria of the last-minute transfer deals was dominated by the possible return of Phillipe Coutinho to the Premier League. There is no question which English club had been linked with the Brazilian, the biggest hint that the one he wanted certainly knows him well. However, Jurgen Klopp squashed any idea of any incoming transfer let alone his ex-prized asset making a grand homecoming, by bluntly stating “no answer” as to whether he entertained the idea of bringing Coutinho back.
In terms of players contracted to Liverpool and ready for the season opener the question is still dangling on Liverpool fans minds, how many minutes will Sadio Mane get on Friday night? The last out of the front three to return from international duty has not been ruled out which indicates a cameo from the bench is likely.
What about the starting line-up? The back four is interesting as there are two talking points, Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold. The former looks fresh and it feels like after some match fitness the young England centre back will start to show his prime form of last season.
On the other hand, Trent has shown some rustiness during preseason which is understandable considering his astronomical rise in the last two years which has led to a relentless amount of games without a break. There will always be the fear if young players are not managed correctly then they will burn out, meaning they won’t enjoy the longevity of their career. This leaves the question whether Trent would benefit from a rest in the first part of the season while Gomez deputises at right back. Personally, it would be beneficial for Trent to have another productive season.
For the rest of the side, the front three that started against Manchester City with Divork Origi covering for Mane on the left wing with the rest of the front three will most likely line up against Norwich. Klopp was praising Naby Keita suggesting he has a “different body language” eluding to a more confident player this season. This may have hinted at a possible start for the Guinean. James Milner is expected to return to the matchday squad after missing the Community Shield through a minor injury.
Norwich fans can relate to Liverpool in terms of enjoying an exciting brand of football led by a former member of the recent Borussia Dortmund establishment. Daniel Farke managed Norwich to a title winning season in the Championship.
Though this remains a whole different level, the attraction of Anfield will raise Norwich City’s players, though the fear of facing an energetic fanatic team like Liverpool will send shivers down their spines. Particularly after Farke announced in his pre match press conference that experienced defenders such as Christoph Zimmerman, Timm Klose and Alexander Tetty were missing for Friday. This means a youthful but inexperienced side is likely to face Liverpool on Friday night.
Despite these factors Klopp is not taking Norwich lightly, stating that the Canaries will still be riding the momentum of last season. Despite the warning from the lively but focused German if we have learnt anything about this Liverpool side it’s that they treat every opponent with respect. This shouldn’t stop the Reds running out comfortable winners and laying down a marker for the rest of their competitors to fear.