At long last, transfer rumours are a thing of the past and actual football is the centre of things once more. Fans across the country will undoubtedly be celebrating the end of three long months of rumours and gossip, none more so than these two sets of fans.
It’s fair to say that neither has set the world alight during the summer window, with Liverpool signing just two players and newly promoted Norwich spending less than £5 million. It has been an underwhelming summer for both clubs and, while it is understandable for Liverpool who recorded 97 points in the league and won the Champions League, it is very risky from Norwich.
The Canaries were a surprise package last season and deservedly won promotion playing a brand of football that was easy on the eye.
However, even then their transfer policy was risky, replacing prized asset James Maddison with free transfer and Celtic reject Teemu Pukki who just happened to inspire them to promotion. Furthermore, many of their points were won out of last-minute goals and that simply can’t be repeated.
It remains to be seen whether a similar policy will bear fruit in a far superior division and Norwich could be heading for the drop in a style typical of their yoyo nature.
They will lose their opening game of the season, and lose it quite convincingly. Both clubs endured a lukewarm preseason, but Liverpool can use the Charity Shield game against Man City to get up to speed and run riot.
Mane has historically gotten seasons off to a flyer since making the move to Anfield in 2016. The Senegalese forward has scored on the opening day of the league season in each of his three campaigns in the red of Liverpool and is now among the most dangerous forwards in the league.
He has undergone a transition from an inconsistent player who too often took the wrong option into a lethal forward capable of returning 20 goals a season in just three years.
With Liverpool set to mount another title challenge, Mane’s form and fitness are crucial as it was Mane, and not Mohamed Salah, who kept Liverpool hanging on to City’s coattails towards the end of last season.
Any of Liverpool’s front three has the potential to unlock the Norwich defence, but due to Mane’s terrific form last spring and his pedigree in the opening game of the season, we think it will be him to do so first.
Liverpool’s home form last year was impeccable. The Reds won 17 of their 19 games at Anfield, drawing the other two. One of those draws was against Manchester City, while the other was the costly draw against Leicester that momentarily derailed their title bid and allowed City to eventually sneak in front of them.
That aside, Liverpool were flawless at home last season. They scored 55 goals and conceded just 10, keeping 12 clean sheets in the process.
Liverpool were remorseless against teams from the bottom half of the table, winning every single game and scoring 35 goals in the process. They conceded just six times in those ten games, giving them an average winning margin of three against teams from the bottom 10 at Anfield.
It stands to reason that Norwich will be one of those teams this season, and it could be a long night for those in yellow on Friday. There will be long periods where they will be pinned inside their own half which increases the likelihood that Liverpool will beat the four-corner handicap.
*All odds correct at time of posting