Good start to the season
It is too early in the season to look for complete performances. Against a relatively unknown opponent, the Reds controlled the game and bagged the three points. The performance was good in spurts as you would expect from an early-season game and Liverpool showed why they are always dangerous to score with the quality they have in the front line.
Second half was more of the controlled approach perhaps with the midweek game in mind. At the end of the day, it was an easy win that gets the season started the right way. There are several aspects of the overall performance which can be improved upon but it was important to get things going against a Norwich team that will hurt a lot of teams with their quality passing and movement.
Adrian is here
A freak injury to Alisson during a kickoff was the only downside from the season opener. Adrian who was expected to fill the role of Mignolet on the bench was suddenly protecting the goal in front of the Kop. The Reds were already up 3-0 at the time and there was not much worry for this game but every Liverpool fan feared the worst. It made the live match chatter become a medical session for than the football analysis one would expect. We now know that despite being an important injury, it is far from the worst-case scenario. With Becker out 4-6 weeks, Adrian will now play an important role.
Is Adrian better than Mignolet? Time will tell. Most fans will agree that they feel better with Adrian in goal compared to Mignolet. Perhaps this is mainly due to not seeing enough of Adrian and having seen more than what they wanted out of Mignolet. Adrian is a good shot-stopper with a better command of the box in general and he is definitely better with his feet compared to Migs. Alisson will surely be missed but Liverpool dodged a bullet in some ways by not losing Becker for the season.
Bobby makes everything work
Goals mostly come from Salah and Mane at Liverpool but the key player in the front three is definitely Firmino. His ridiculous work rate is almost expected now and gets overlooked. He tracks back, fills in behind Salah when Mo is not tracking back, creates space with his movement, distributes the ball, and contributes to scoring. He is just an all-around player who is extremely skilled on the ball. There are not a lot of players like Firmino which is why Liverpool struggles to find a player to give him some rest. Any forward would love to play alongside Bobby and any defender would hate playing against him. He is definitely one of the most underrated players in the Premier League.
New rules in effect but no sign of VAR
VAR was not called upon in this game except for goal reviews. VAR, therefore, did not really impact the game except an issue with the network caused delays. Much was made of this in media but it was just a freak incident similar to lights going out in the middle of a game etc.
Teams showed that they were prepared to counter against the new rule changes.
Liverpool countered the new rules for players on the wall during a free kick by building their own mini wall in front to block the view. More concerning was seeing how much time a team can waste by setting up for a short goal kick, looking around for 5-10 seconds and then resetting to a long goal kick which took away even more time. Hoping the referees address this early in the game against teams using it as a time-killing tactic. I can definitely envision this getting extremely frustrating in games where the Reds are chasing a crucial goal to get the three points.
Defense does not look settled
Aside from the injury to Alisson, most head-shaking moments came courtesy of the defense. Letting runs through easily as well as leaving spaces for runs behind them, it was the most concerning aspect of the performance.
TAA got another assist and took the lead over Robertson in that category but through some poor tackling and overrunning some plays, he left a ton of space behind him. Gomez was out of position several times, relying on his speed to recover. Overall the entire line did not look as organized as we have accustomed to watching. This can’t be blamed on the goalie change as the initial part of the game was when the lack of defensive cohesion was the most glaring. Norwich was not able to punish Liverpool in these moments but a more clinical team could have. It is early in the season but this is one area the Reds definitely have to improve on.