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Aug 9, 2019 at 8pm UK
NorwichNorwich City
Hanley (7' og.), Salah (19'), van Dijk (28'), Origi (42')

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Preview: Liverpool vs. Norwich City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews the 2019-20 Premier League curtain-raiser as European champions Liverpool host Norwich City at Anfield on Friday night.

The 2019-20 Premier League campaign gets underway on Friday night as last season's runners-up Liverpool take on newly-promoted Norwich City at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp's European champions will go into the match as firm favourites to begin with three points at the start of another expected title challenge, providing a daunting test for Norwich on their return to the top flight.


Jurgen Klopp celebrates winning the Champions League with Liverpool on June 1, 2019© Reuters

The old saying goes that no-one remembers second place, but Liverpool's 2018-19 campaign may prove to be the exception to that rule.

Klopp's Reds recorded the third-highest points tally in Premier League history and were beaten just once all season, yet they were still pipped to the post by an imperious Manchester City side.

If Man City are to continue as the measuring stick, early indications are that Liverpool will run them close; Sunday's Community Shield saw the Merseysiders take the treble-winners all the way to penalties before Georginio Wijnaldum's miss proved costly.

Of course, we can only learn so much from the Community Shield, but Klopp will be confident that his side are capable of much more having been without last season's joint-top scorer Sadio Mane.

The disappointment of missing out on the title last season was also tempered by their Champions League glory, and Friday's match sees them return to fully competitive action for the first time since that night in Madrid.

One question mark which does hang over Liverpool is whether they have made enough progress compared to their rivals over the summer. Whereas Man City, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Manchester United have all broken transfer records, Liverpool have only brought in two promising youngsters and a veteran backup goalkeeper.

Matters on the field could have also gone better during pre-season, with Liverpool losing three and winning just one of their five friendlies against top-flight European clubs.

Fortunately for the Reds, the statistics suggest that they could not have been handed a kinder curtain-raiser on paper than Norwich at home.

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 25 Premier League home games against promoted teams - part of an ongoing 40-game undefeated streak at Anfield - while they have a particularly good recent record against Norwich too.

Only Manchester United have beaten the Canaries more often in the Premier League era, and Liverpool have often done it in style, scoring exactly five goals in four of the past six meetings.

Norwich fans will be relieved not to see the main protagonist from those games - Luis Suarez - on the team sheet for Liverpool this time around, but the attacking trident of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Mane may be capable of doing even greater damage.

Recent form: LLDLWL


Norwich City boss Daniel Farke pictured on May 5, 2019© Reuters

Considering their recent record against Liverpool, this is perhaps the most difficult baptism of fire Norwich could have drawn on their first game back in the Premier League.

A top-flight team again for the first time since 2015-16, the Canaries were something of a surprise package in the way they stormed to the Championship title last season, having only finished 14th the year before.

The euphoria of that triumph will have carried on over the summer, though, and there is an argument to be made that the opening day of the season is actually the best time to come up against such daunting opposition.

Norwich have had a mixed pre-season in the buildup to what will be manager Daniel Farke's first taste of top-flight football in any country during his career, winning three, losing two and drawing one of their five friendlies.

Some of those wins will have raised belief that they can compete amongst the big boys, though, particularly the victories over Schalke 04 and Toulouse - the latter of which was their most recent outing.

As far as transfers go Norwich have taken a low-key approach, spending less than £4m on new players, the most expensive of which was the £750,000 purchase of Sam Byram from West Ham United.

It is a far cry from the nine-figure sum splashed out by fellow newly-promoted outfit Aston Villa, although Norwich can point to Fulham's plight last season as proof that big spending does not always result in top-flight survival.

Nevertheless, such frugality has enhanced their status as second-favourites to suffer relegation straight back to the Championship, with Sheffield United the only team considered more likely to go down by the bookmakers.

Farke is grounded enough to know that this season opener may not be a glimpse of what is to come, though; Norwich picked up just one point from their first three Championship games last season, and only one win from their first five games, before going on to win the title.

Indeed, the Canaries have a woeful opening-day record in recent years, winning just one of their last 16 regardless of the division they have been in.

The odds of them improving that record on Friday will be huge, but anything other than defeat could also give them the belief they may need against the big teams considering they also face Chelsea and Manchester City in their opening five games.

Recent form: DWLWLW

Team News

Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League on May 12, 2019.© Reuters

Mane played no part in pre-season after helping Senegal to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations, and it remains to be seen whether he will be thrown straight into the fold for this match.

The Premier League Golden Boot winner rejoined his teammates earlier this week after an extended break, but Klopp may opt to use Champions League hero Divock Origi up front in order to give Mane more time to get back up to speed.

Mane does boast a formidable record on the opening day, though, scoring in each of his last three Premier League curtain-raisers - only Teddy Sheringham has ever managed four in a row.

Other star names such as Salah, Firmino and Virgil van Dijk should start in what is expected to be a similar Liverpool side to the one which played against Man City at Wembley on Sunday.

James Milner is a doubt after picking up a knock in that match, although he is unlikely to start against his former club even if fully fit.

Norwich, meanwhile, will be without Christoph Zimmermann, Alex Tettey and Louis Thompson for the season opener, although the trio are all expected back in training this month.

Timm Klose is also doubtful with a hip problem but should recover in time to feature.

The Canaries will look to last season's 30-goal top scorer Teemu Pukki as their most likely man to upset Liverpool's defence, while summer arrival Patrick Roberts will hope to do parent club Man City an early favour should he get the chance.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Origi

Norwich possible starting lineup:
Krul; Aarons, Klose, Godfrey, Byram; McLean, Vrancic; Buendia, Stiepermann, Hernandez; Pukki

Head To Head

The head-to-head record does not make good reading for Norwich in this fixture, with Liverpool unbeaten against the Canaries in 12 matches since 1994.

Liverpool have scored 39 goals in those games, and 10 of them have resulted in victory - most recently a thrilling 5-4 triumph at Carrow Road in January 2016.

That was one of four occasions where Liverpool have scored five goals past Norwich since 2012, and perhaps unsurprisingly the Canaries have therefore conceded more goals against Liverpool than any other team in the Premier League.

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We say: Liverpool 3-0 Norwich

It is difficult to see past a convincing opening-day win for Liverpool in this match. It is as hard as it gets for Norwich to begin their campaign, with Liverpool seemingly better all over the park, and we expect to see a routine triumph for the home side.

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