Player ratings: Liverpool 4-1 Norwich

Anfield
You’ve got to love Norwich right? The old terrace chant of ‘Can we play you every week?’ has rarely been more fitting than when sung by Liverpool fans to Norwich City. From Suarez regularly destroying them on his own, to 5-4 victories, to confidence building opening day of the season thrashings, Norwich are the gift that keeps on giving. Let’s see how our players got on in the first player ratings of the season.

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Alisson (6) - As DaBandit mentioned on the match thread, it took Alisson a mere four minutes of the new season to have me screaming obscenities at him and spilling beer around the place in agitation, as he played a ridiculously sloppy pass straight to a Norwich player and promptly conceded a shot on goal. Redeemed himself somewhat with a couple of decent saves before disaster struck! After going to play a straightforward pass, Alisson immediately went down clutching what appeared to be his calf. After treatment on the pitch, he hobbled off in worrying fashion. It will be a major blow if we lose last season’s triple golden glove winner for an extended period. Fingers crossed it’s not too serious.

TAA (6) - Got himself an assist with one of his trademark crosses and stung the Norwich keeper’s palms with a free kick but this was not a great performance from Trent. Defensively he was all over the place as Norwich got in down our right hand side the whole game. Sloppy in possession a lot of the time as well as on a number of occasions, he just seemed to kick the ball straight at a Norwich player. I’m not particularly worried about that as we all know how good a passer of the ball Trent usually is but the defensive side of his game really must improve.

Gomez (7) - Not a great start from Joe as he lost possession a couple of times in the opening stages and along with Trent, struggled to contain attacks coming down our right flank. Grew into the game however and used his recovery pace to good effect on a couple of occasions. I’d forgotten how quick he is. Anyway, good to see him back.

Van Dijk (8) - A good start for Virgil, got himself on the scoresheet with a well taken header. He didn’t even need to jump, just held off his defender and nodded home. That’s seven goals in his last nineteen games, that’s a better strike rate than a lot of forwards in the league. You could see he wasn’t happy with his fellow defenders on many occasions throughout the game however, as he was regularly screaming at them throughout and with good reason. We looked far from the rock solid defence of last season and the big man will not be happy at not keeping a clean sheet in a game we were in such control of.

Robertson (7) - Robbo started brightly and was the first player of the season to make me say ‘nice’ as he played a lovely cushioned cross field pass to Trent after a string of sloppy passes from our team in the opening minutes. Couple of good crosses in the first half and went close with a couple of shots. Faded second half however, although that may have been upon team instruction to no longer chase the game at 4-0 up. Was solid defensively throughout although he did play the Norwich attacker onside in the lead up to their goal. Our offside trap in general, having looked so polished last season, was ragged on a number of occasions last night, as it was against City. Perhaps a training ground refresher is required.

Fabinho (7) - Started really poorly and looked lost for the opening ten minutes but quickly got himself back up to speed and by the end of the game, he was bossing the midfield. Breaks up play brilliantly and with such minimal fuss, it almost goes unnoticed sometimes. Going to be a big player for us this season. 

Henderson (7) - Mixed bag for Hendo, some of his passing and delivery into the box was woeful at times but you know you’ll always get a shift from Hendo and he started to influence the game more as time went on. I much prefer Hendo in his new role as opposed to number six. Hopefully Fabinho can stay fit as I don’t think we see the best of Hendo in that role. His energy is much better used further forward where he’s playing now. His pressing was really good second half as we had them pinned in for much of the time.

Wijnaldum (6) - Broke up play a couple of times and a couple of nice cross field passes but for the whole, he was practically invisible. Such a frustrating player at times Gini. We’ve seen him totally dominate Barca’s midfield and at times he shows some outrageous skills and passing ability, I just don’t know why he doesn’t try it more often. He has the ability to really influence games but too often is on the periphery.

Salah (8.5) - I didn’t think there was a stand out candidate for man of the match but Salah probably just edged it in my opinion. A goal and an assist for his troubles and he’ll be delighted to have opened his scoring account so quickly. Showed some nice footwork and close control, as he did against City. I find that really encouraging as for all his goals, the technical side of Salah’s game really hasn’t been great in his time with us. Looked a lot better the last couple of games though and if he can polish the technical side of his game, he’ll be an absolute weapon. Keep it up lad.

Firmino (7.5) - I thought Bobby started like a house on fire against City in the Charity shield match and he put in another really good display last night. Bobby’s technical ability and close control, along with intelligent runs from our wide players, are what makes our attack so difficult to stop. Got himself an assist with a lovely weighted pass for Salah and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet himself after brilliantly controlling and volleying a cross that brought a smart save from Krul in the Norwich goal. Tired in the latter stages and was understandably subbed.

Origi (8) - Does this lad still have doubters? Personally, I’m a believer and am no longer concerned when I see Origi’s name on the team sheet. Gave the Norwich right back a torrid first half and put in the cross that led to the opening goal in the first few minutes of the game. Does that count as an assist? I reckon it does. Got himself on the scoresheet as well with a well taken header, after a brilliant run between fullback and centre half. What I found encouraging about that run, amongst others he made in the game, is that it means he’s starting to understand the tactical side of the game, which was an accusation I have levelled at him in the past - for all his size and skill, he didn’t make the right runs etc. That has changed however and we’re now witnessing the best version of Origi that we’ve seen in his Anfield career.

Subs:

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Adrian (7) - Didn’t have much to do and was unfortunate to have to pick the ball out his net before he’d had a save to make. The goal was no fault of his however and he made a smart save second half and showed some nice distribution with the ball at his feet. Difficult circumstances to make your debut in but I thought he acquitted himself well.

Mane (7) - Looked dangerous and hungry when he came on. Klopp has often said in the past that Mane is one of the world’s best attackers, he maybe just needs to believe that himself. I think he finally believes now, there’s a real swagger about Mane on the pitch these days and that should strike fear into our opponents hearts. I expect big things from Mane this season.

Milner (N/A) - Ran around a bit.

Klopp-watch (8) - Difficult to score Klopp on a game that was won inside half an hour but there was a couple of things I didn’t agree with. Firstly, it seems Gomez has been immediately reinstated as first choice partner for Van Dijk this season, seeing as he started against City and then again last night. I don’t think that’s fair on Joel Matip, who was mirroring Van Dijk’s performance levels by the end of last season and put in a flawless Champions League final, winning the trophy. He should retain his place in my opinion, until form or injury dictate otherwise and I think it sends the wrong message to the squad, as it shows you don’t play purely on merit. He even came on and scored the equaliser against City for god’s sake. I also thought there was no need to bring Mane on, when he’s only had two weeks off. Could’ve given Shaq or Keita some much needed minutes, with the game already won. Anyway, that rant aside... erm, good job Jurgen.

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Summary:

So, injury to Alisson aside, opening fixtures don’t come much better but despite the emphatic scoreline, there were some reasons for concern, primarily defensively. We were far too easy to play through and get in behind last night, just as we were in the first half against City. Hopefully it just needs some polishing on the training pitch but we’ve looked far from solid in the last two games. Better opposition would have punished us last night I fear.

Speaking of the opposition, that brings me on to plucky old Norwich. Plucky yes but unbelievably naive. The way they set up and when I saw them standing with the two players in the box getting ready to play out from the back, I thought this plays right into our hands. If you play like this, you’re going to get destroyed and so it came to pass. I admire them sticking to their principles but you’re effectively a Championship team and you’re at Anfield - the home of the reigning European Champions. Even Pep Guardiola, a renowned football purist, who refuses to alter his approach to games, does change his approach when playing at Anfield. So fair play Norwich, I hope you stay up this year but last night was a major reality check for both players and manager.

A sterner test awaits next then, with Chelsea in the Super Cup and for me, it’s a good chance to both put a trophy in the cabinet and give newly appointed Chelsea manager, Frank Lampard a chastening wake up call to the task ahead and put a dent in a rival’s confidence so I feel it’s a game we should take extremely seriously, as I’m sure we will.

Anyway, that’s all for this this ratings folks. Top of the league - start as you mean to finish
And let’s go get that first trophy on Wednesday. Walk on.

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