So the opening salvoes of the 2019/20 Premier League season have been fired and I think it’s fair to say that we took a few more hits and we gave.
Getting a ticket for Anfield was never going to be realistic for me. I’m struggling with the number of annual leave days that I have left and that’s before I even considered the ticket melee that one has to get involved in these days.
So, down the pub.
I met with some of my best mates at The Ribs of Beef after a little bit of confusion. Originally, the pub had been chosen as The Coach & Horses on Yarmouth Road.
“I’ll be there from six” said one. “We’ll be there from half six” said another couple of them. I finished work and got stuck in the nightmare that was Friday’s Acle straight, quickly realising that I would need to be heading back via Caister to get to Acle. I got home, late, rushed my tea, kissed the dog, patted the wife on the head and was out of the door.
I got to The Coach only to find there was nobody there. Check my phone and there’s a text from Adolf, “Mate, the Coach is rammed. Change of plan, Bunny has seats at The Ribs.”
Fortunately, I drove straight on to Fishergate and found a parking spot, just like that. Thank you.
I was the last to arrive but we had a table, seats and everyone was there, Adolf, Fonz, Bunny (Token Scouser), Matty, Chris, Fathers (for Justice), Jus and Crazy Legs Crane.
There was varying discussion about the game, with the general consensus being that we would probably lose but as long as we produced a good performance and didn’t get hammered, that we’d be happy with that.
The team was a Championship team with none of our new signings being in the starting XI. That’s what I would’ve done too, the big surprise being that Todd Cantwell was chosen ahead of Hernandez. It looked like Onel would be kept in reserve to punish Liverpool towards the end of the game when they were tired(!)
Ultimately, we lost this game and from my view in a packed, very hot pub, we didn’t embarrass ourselves completely. If you didn’t watch the game and just saw the score line when you woke up this morning, you’d think Norwich were hammered but that wasn’t the case in the overall scheme of things.
Yes, we conceded four goals in the first half but the game changed when Hanley sliced the ball into his own net on 7 minutes. Had City not conceded like that then I think it’s a different game. I’m not saying that we would’ve won, just that it would’ve been different. If we’d have got to 20 minutes without conceding then, who knows? I’m still not saying we would’ve won, by the way.
The major difference between the teams was the ruthless finishing on display from the Red men. City had 12 shots with 5 of them being on target and they had some gilt edged chances. They got in behind Liverpool on a number of occasions, certainly enough to make Jurgen Klopp wince and could’ve had at least two goals themselves in the first half.
For the record, Liverpool had 15 shots with 7 of them being on target.
I think Norwich were a little naïve at times as they played the same way as they did throughout last season. Literally the same. There seemed to be no concession for the lofty opponents that they were facing and there was plenty of close passing and control, stuff that opened Liverpool up several times.
Marco Stiepermann had three good chances but only hit the target with one and Teemu Pukki worked tirelessly, getting the reward of his goal in the 64th minute. It’ll be good for him personally and you have to take into consideration the level the opposition are at. Taking chances is going to be crucial to our season because as we saw here, we will create them.
Aarons and Lewis were sometimes a little too gung-ho and Hanley and Godfrey were all over the place, at times. I thought Tim Krul was excellent though, pulling off some good saves and having no real chance with any of the goals.
In terms of Liverpool’s goals, the first was an unlucky slice that could happen to anyone and the second took three deflections before ending up at the feet of Salah. The third was from a corner where the best centre-back in the world was being marked by Jamal Lewis and Van Dijk got a free header. The fourth was just as avoidable as Origi ran between Aarons and Hanley to head home an excellent cross.
Pukki’s goal owed much to his still excellent movement and the usual crisp finish. We created chances but just didn’t take them. We’re not ultimately competing against Liverpool though, or Manchester City etc.
Our season will be defined by games against those we are more closely matched with, like Burnley, Southampton, Villa, Sheffield United, Newcastle (up next) and Brighton. I wasn’t overly discouraged and still think we’ll do okay. With Klose, Zimmermann and Amadou still to come back, our defensive options/ability should increase.
It’s also worth noting that Liverpool scored four or more on nine separate occasions last season against Cardiff, Bournemouth, West Ham, Newcastle, Arsenal, Palace, Watford, Burnley and Huddersfield – I’ve not included that Barcelona result, either.
Norwich will not change the way they play after a big loss like this. Playing in an attacking, fluid way got them to where they are, so why change? Bournemouth did the same when they came up and they do the same now.
It’s a philosophy and Farke will stick to it.
Perhaps a few tweeks are needed because Norwich were bold to go to Anfield and take Liverpool on like this. I’m intrigued to see what Amadou can offer when he’s up to speed and I also think that Moritz Leitner needs to play regularly. The Canaries’ game visibly improved when he was introduced in the second half.
Oh, and let’s not forget, we did ”win” the second half 🙂