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10/10 Salah inspires Liverpool to perfect start

Liverpool kicked off their Premier League campaign with a 3-0 win against Norwich City as Jurgen Klopp enjoyed a number of stars returning to the squad for the clash at Carrow Road.

The Reds eased their way into the game with strong wide play creating some half-chances. Ultimately that led to the opener as Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s low pass was flicked on by Mohamed Salah for Diogo Jota who made no mistake with the finish.

Efforts from Joel Matip and Sadio Mane had to be cleared as the Canaries resisted a second Liverpool goal, but that was only until substitute Roberto Firmino found acres of space in the 65th minute and was picked out by Salah for the second goal of the game.

It soon got worse for the newly-promoted side as Salah was once again involved; goalkeeper Tim Krul unable to keep out the winger’s curling effort to put the game out of reach.

Alisson was required in the 87th minute with an excellent stop but it was a case of too little too late for Norwich who came up against an impressive Liverpool display.

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Positives

Kostas Tsimikas continued his good form from preseason and looks to be a valuable asset when covering for Andy Robertson. Liverpool pressed efficiently throughout the game without exerting too much energy and created a positive number of chances. Klopp’s attacking quartet looked sharp and have started the season brightly; that bodes well for what could be a competitive title race.

Negatives

The communication could have been better in the first half with Norwich City finding space behind the Liverpool defensive line. Teemu Pukki appeared to be untracked by Matip and Virgil van Dijk in Norwich’s brightest moments and that element could have been problematic against a pacier striker.

Manager rating out of 10

8 — Klopp’s midfield pressed the ball well while there can be no complaints with Jota starting over Firmino with the Portuguese star scoring a goal. Liverpool had consistent success in wide areas with overloads while the majority of their deliveries were on point. Klopp’s introduction of Firmino and Fabinho was timed well and paid dividends quickly as the forward doubled Liverpool’s advantage.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Alisson, 7 — Strong hands from Alisson denied Pukki who found space behind Virgil van Dijk for Norwich City’s sole chance of the first half. A big save late-on preserved Liverpool’s clean sheet.

DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 7 — The Liverpool star looked sharp on the opening day and enjoyed some good spells of link-up play with Mohamed Salah.

DF Joel Matip, 6 — The centre-back almost made it 2-0 just after the half-hour mark but saw his effort blocked. While there were no glaring mistakes at the back, communication could have been better at times with Pukki finding space behind the defence.

DF Virgil van Dijk, 6 — Liverpool’s star defender is back and 90 minutes in the Premier League will be vital as the 30-year-old regains sharpness. The Dutchman looked composed at the back in the second half as Klopp’s side defended comfortably to see out the game.

DF Kostas Tsimikas, 7 — A bright performance up the left flank from Tsimikas who stretched the play regularly during Liverpool attacks. The Greece international put in a number of crosses that asked questions of the Norwich defence and picked up some good positions defensively to clear the danger.

MF James Milner, 7 — The veteran midfielder found himself in the book after a sloppy challenge in the middle of the park but otherwise looked assured from the No. 6 position. The 35-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down.

MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 6 — Had a couple of efforts that didn’t trouble Krul’s goal and Oxlade-Chamberlain’s final ball could have been better. The midfielder was replaced by Fabinho after working hard throughout the game in defence.

MF Naby Keita, 7 — The Guinean looked incisive on the ball throughout the game, moving the ball progressively as well as maintaining Liverpool’s press in the midfield. An injury-free season could see Keita involved regularly going forward.

FW Mohamed Salah, 10 — Salah will claim that he meant to find Jota for the Liverpool opener as he helped on Alexander-Arnold’s pass for the assist, but there can be no questions of the 29-year-old’s intent for the second one. A typical Salah finish capped off a flawless performance to begin the season

FW Diogo Jota, 7 — The Portugal international warned Krul early with a glancing header that almost looped over the Norwich goalkeeper before a clinical finish put Liverpool ahead. Replaced at the hour mark by Firmino.

FW Sadio Mane, 7 — An accurate cross from the winger almost saw the deadlock broken with Salah’s volley flashing just wide of the post. The former Southampton man then almost got on the scoresheet but for a crucial block from Norwich defender Max Aarons.

Substitutes

FW Roberto Firmino, 7 — It didn’t take long for the Brazilian to score as he doubled Liverpool’s lead just five minutes after being introduced with a cool finish from Salah’s pass.

MF Fabinho, 7 — Fabinho dictated proceedings from midfield to allow James Milner to play more advanced. The 27-year-old was alert to the danger in the central areas of the park, not allowing Norwich City phases to ignite into anything meaningful.

MF Harvey Elliott, N/R — The 18-year-old was introduced for the final moments of the game in what could be the first of many appearances this season.

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