Death, taxes and Liverpool winning at Anfield.
There are few things certain in life, and fewer still in football. But on the opening night of the new Premier League campaign, Jurgen Klopp’s side showed they are ready for another full-throttle season.
All the old favourites were on show as newly-promoted Norwich were beaten here. There was a goal for Mohamed Salah and a Virgil van Dijk header. There was an assist for Trent Alexander-Arnold, finished by Divock Origi. Roberto Firmino buzzed, Andy Robertson ran and Jurgen Klopp – eventually – could smile at a job well done. His team had their flaws, but they got what they wanted
Still, there’s no such thing as a perfect day, and Liverpool saw the shine taken off their rousing victory by the sight of Alisson Becker, their goalkeeper, being taken off injured in the first-half here.
The Brazilian suffered a problem with his right calf when taking a routine goal-kick, seven minutes before half-time. As the game briefly continued, Alisson signalled immediately to the bench and, after a lengthy delay, was helped from the field by Andy Massey, the club doctor.
Positive, at least, was that he turned down the option of a stretcher, but the concern on the faces of Klopp and his coaching staff, as well as Alisson’s team-mates, told its own story. Liverpool can ill-afford a long term injury to one of their key players, and the 26-year-old was in obvious pain and discomfort.
It meant a debut for Adrian, who last played in the Premier League in May 2018 and who a week ago was contemplating a move to Real Valladolid. The Spaniard will now almost certainly start Wednesday’s UEFA Super Cup against Chelsea in Istanbul, and could be set for an extended run in the side if Alisson’s injury turns out to be a bad one. A penny for the thoughts of Simon Mignolet.
That aside, there was not too much for Kopites to complain about as the European champions got down to business. No big signings, but they remain a force to be reckoned with. And judging by this, they remain as hungry as ever - even if there are aspects of their performance that Klopp will hope to improve.
Norwich contributed plenty to an entertaining first half, yet found themselves four goals down by the break. They scored the first themselves, Grant Hanley diverting Origi’s cross into his own net after just seven minutes.
After that Salah, who looked sharp and eager throughout, grabbed his first of the campaign, finishing in trademark style from Firmino’s pass. The Golden Boot winner in each of the last two seasons, the Egyptian is back on the goal trail once again.
He turned provider for the third, his corner headed home by Virgil van Dijk, who has now scored six times in his last 19 appearances from centre-back. Less than half an hour had passed and Norwich, having played some nice stuff, were already dead and buried.
They certainly were when Origi timed his run to perfection to head Alexander-Arnold’s sublime cross past Tim Krul before the break. The Belgian may not be Sadio Mane, who started on the bench, but he remains a player capable of decisive contributions, no matter the opposition. He will have a role to play again this term.
Norwich could feel hard done – they had more shots than Liverpool in the first half – but such are the levels in the Premier League. The Canaries, who played with belief and a clear identity, were simply found wanting in both penalty boxes.
They got something to show for their efforts in the second half as Teemu Pukki, last season’s top scorer, pulled a goal back with a well-taken finish across an exposed Adrian.
It was a consolation only, of course. Liverpool’s job was already done. They were heading to the top of the table.
Now, though, they will hope for good news from the doctor.