The new Premier League season kicks off under the Friday night lights at Anfield as runners-up Liverpool hope to get another big challenge to Manchester City off to a winning start against newly-promoted Norwich.
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Liverpool v Norwich
Friday, 2000 BST - live on Sky Sports
Can Liverpool repeat, or even better, last season's record points haul? They begin the season knowing that they may just have to if they're to topple Man City this season, so Jurgen Klopp is well aware that a fast start is needed to lay the earliest of markers down, and they look ready to do just that.
These two were the lowest spenders in the summer transfer window so it’s two sets of well-known squads on show, but that’s about the only similarity between the expensively-assembled European champions and the Premier League newcomers - emphasising the size of the task in hand for Daniel Farke's Canaries.
Norwich have lost ten of their last 12 against Liverpool and their last win was way back in 1994 - although it was at Anfield and is one many Liverpool fans will remember as Jeremy Goss scored the final goal in front of the standing Kop before it was converted into seating.
The Reds usually start the season well, last losing their opening game in 2012 and not losing a home opener since Chelsea beat them way back in 2003, and that coupled with their current unbeaten home record of 40 Premier League games means they’re rightly overwhelming favourites to get off to a winning start.
We should have an entertaining contest to kick us off this season if Norwich come with the same free-flowing open style which helped them claim the Championship title last season, and three looks like the magic number as two-thirds of Liverpool's home games produced at least three goals and it was a similar tale for the Canaries.
On the flip side of that is the worry that a wide-open Norwich could take a bit of a hiding if Liverpool are in the mood, but it's a free-hit for the newcomers and Farke seems the type of manager to stick to his guns - meaning we could be in for goals as the Premier League returns in style.
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Sporting Life verdict
Poor pre-season results and no big signings led to a few nerves creeping into Reds supporters this summer, but despite losing on penalties their Community Shield performance will have done wonders as they were streets ahead of Man City in terms of fitness and dominated that second half at Wembley.
Mohamed Salah looked incredibly quick and sharp and having had 10 of Liverpool's 17 shots, four of them on target and two hitting the woodwork, he looks ready to start the season with a bang.
Opening day goals are usually Sadio Mane's domain as he's bagged in the last three for Liverpool but, having only just returned to the squad during the week, it'd be a big ask for him to start on Friday night.
Only champions Man City stopped Liverpool scoring at home last season, one of just three blanks in their Premier League campaign, while at the back they had the league's meanest defence and kept six clean sheets in their first seven at Anfield last season - the stats just don't add up for Norwich.
With the likes of Teemu Pukki and Emiliano Buendia Norwich have goals and guile in abundance so they're not without a chance of scoring at Anfield, but they should have so little of the ball they'll have to be ultra-clinical and preference is for an opening night clean sheet for Virgil van Dijk and his pals with Salah to hit the target three times or more nominated as the best bet.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Norwich (Sky Bet odds: 13/2)
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Liverpool v Norwich Opta stats
- This will be the first time that Liverpool and Norwich have met since a nine-goal thriller at Carrow Road in January 2016, which the Reds prevailed 5-4. Sébastien Bassong had scored an equaliser to make it 4-4 in the 92nd minute, before Adam Lallana netted the winner on 94:18.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 12 matches with Norwich City (all in the Premier League), winning 10 and drawing two while scoring three times the number of goals as the Canaries in these matches (39-13).
- Norwich City have only lost more Premier League games against Manchester United (12) than they have against Liverpool (11), but they have conceded more goals in the Premier League against the Reds than any other side (45).
- On the only previous occasion that Liverpool started a league season at home against Norwich City, the Reds won the top-flight league title ahead of Manchester City in 2nd (1976-77). Liverpool beat Norwich 1-0 at Anfield on MD1 that season.
- Liverpool haven’t lost on MD1 of a Premier League season since a 0-3 away defeat to West Bromwich Albi On the only previous occasion that Liverpool started a league season at home on in 2012-13. Since then they have won five and drawn one of their six openers.
- Norwich City have won just one season-opening league match in the last 16 seasons (W1D8 L7) – this was in 2016-17 in the Championship against Blackburn Rovers (4-1).
- Liverpool are currently enjoying a 40-game unbeaten home run in the Premier League (W30 D10) since losing against Crystal Palace in April 2017. Indeed, against promoted sides they’re unbeaten in 25 games at Anfield (W20 D5), with Jurgen Klopp winning all 10 such games.
- Sadio Mané has scored in Liverpool’s opening Premier League game in each of the last three seasons. The only player to score on the opening weekend in four consecutive campaigns in the competition is Teddy Sheringham (1992-93 to 1995-96).
- Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino scored twice and assisted another in his only previous Premier League start against Norwich. The forward is just two goals away from becoming the first Brazilian to score 50 Premier League goals.
- Norwich’s Daniel Farke will be the 12th different manager whose first ever Premier League game has been against Liverpool. Four of the previous 11 have won (Brian Clough, John Gregory, Paul Sturrock and Craig Shakespeare), though the four managers to do so in a game at Anfield have all lost (David Pleat, Chris Hutchings, Tony Adams and Ronald Koeman).
Posted at 1215 BST on 09/08/19
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