Lethal Liverpool fly out of starting stalls

Jurgen Klopp spent the summer preaching the need to jump out of the blocks with the reflexes of an Olympic sprinter when the new Premier League season kicked off against newly-promoted Norwich at Anfield.

Lethal Liverpool fly out of starting stalls

Jurgen Klopp spent the summer preaching the need to jump out of the blocks with the reflexes of an Olympic sprinter when the new Premier League season kicked off against newly-promoted Norwich at Anfield.

Now following last night’s emphatic victory, all the Liverpool manager needs before declaring this a perfect match day is the all-clear for goalkeeper Alisson, who limped off before half time with what appeared to be an ankle injury.

The summer wait over, the first two combatants of the Premier League season did not waste time feeling their way into the new campaign, more’s the pity for newcomers Norwich who were behind seven minutes into their top-flight return and four down before the half had elapsed.

Norwich certainly showed enough glimpses at the other end of the field during that period however to suggest they will be a good side to watch, and good bet to retain their status this season.

But pity Daniel Farke’s team, who were sent to Anfield to take on a Liverpool side determined to build on last season’s runner-up finish and returning home for the first time since capturing the Champions League in Madrid at the start of June.

The famous old stadium was in party mood, despite Klopp playing the role of the killjoy — refusing to make any mention of last season’s European success in his pre-match programme notes — and their heroes fed off that vigour.

Just seven minutes had gone, and a number of Liverpool pressing actions had already put pressure on the Norwich area, when Andy Robertson found Divock Origi on the left wing.

He beat right-back Max Aarons before delivering a dangerous, low cross which was met by a horrible sliced attempted clearance by Canaries skipper Grant Hanley, the ball flying sideways off his boot and into the Norwich goal.

Liverpool’s second came after 19 minutes and, by that stage, was a welcome cushion for the home side, given Norwich’s spirited response.

It came from some more hesitant defending, and a slice of Liverpool fortune, after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s right-wing foray ended with Mo Salah pouncing on a deflected loose ball, benefitting from a ricochet off a defender and playing a delightful one-two with Roberto Firmino.

The Egyptian reacted quickly, steadied himself and, as he has done so many times in Liverpool red, buried an unstoppable finish from wide on the six-yard line.

It was hardly the script Farke had wanted, but it would worsen. After 28 minutes, yet another Liverpool attack won them a left-wing corner, which Salah duly trotted over to take.

His cross was predictably well-aimed, but Norwich defender Jamal Lewis hardly covered himself in glory, failing to make a committed challenge against Virgil van Dijk, whose six-yard header offered Tim Krul no chance in the visitors’ goal.

If it had not been game over at 2-0, it certainly was now, although to that point it had been a slightly unpredictable affair, given what Norwich had been able to do when they ventured into Liverpool territory.

With England defender Joe Gomez selected to start alongside van Dijk, despite having just 14 minutes of league football under his belt in the calendar year, Liverpool looked surprisingly susceptible through the middle in defence.

Repeatedly, Norwich threaded passes between the pair for the prolific Teemu Pukki to chase, and twice he was able to set up shots which Marco Stiepermann hurried over with terrible attempts.

Pukki was also able to threaten the goal on a couple of occasions, rolling the ball across an open Liverpool net on one, before Stiepermann finally found his range with a 25-yard shot that was excellently saved by Alisson.

It was to be the Brazilian’s last involvement, however, with the keeper suffering a freak ankle injury as he kicked the ball clear after 39 minutes, presenting Adrian with his first taste of football since signing at the start of the week.

If there were concerns about his goalkeeper’s fitness for Klopp, at least the football being served by his team was enough to keep his mind off them.

After 41 minutes, a cross of quite breathtaking quality from Alexander-Arnold, and an equally well-timed run by Origi, found the striker in space, and his firm header handed Liverpool a 4-0 advantage.

When the start to the second half was delayed due to a malfunctioning referee’s headset, it appeared a small mercy for Norwich, but one which did not last long.

Just three minutes had gone when Origi’s cross allowed Henderson a shot, which Krul touched onto the bar before Alexander-Arnold kept play alive with a cross — but Firmino could not meet it cleanly at the far post.

Salah and Robertson also threatened before Norwich — and their travelling fans — claimed the goal they deserved after they once more dissected the Liverpool back line.

Emiliano Buendia played the decisive through-ball, splitting Gomez and van Dijk, for Pukki to control and calmly beat Adrian.

There would be more chances for Firmino, and a magnificent free kick from Alexander-Arnold was well saved, but the key to Klopp’s happiness this morning will be the word from his medical room.

LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Alisson 6 (Adrian 39, 6); Alexander-Arnold 8, Gomez 6, van Dijk 7, Robertson 8; Henderson 7, Fabinho 7, Wijnaldum 7; Salah 8, Firmino 7 (Milner 85), Origi 9 (Mane 73, 6).

NORWICH (4-2-3-1): Krul 7; Aarons 5, Hanley 4, Godfrey 7, Lewis 5; McLean 5, Trybull 6 (Hernandez 69, 6); Buendia 8, Stiepermann 6 (Leitner 58, 6), Cantwell 6; Pukki 7 (Drmic 82).

Referee: M Oliver 7

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