Imorgon är det ligapremiär, och för Liverpools del är det nykomlingen Norwich City på Carrow Road som står för motståndet.
Skadeläge: Robertson (ankelskada), Jones (lätt hjärnskakning), Shaqiri (övergångsaktuell), Phillips (övergångsaktuell)
Trolig startelva (4-3-3): Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van Dijk, Tsimikas – Fabinho, Milner, Keita – Mané, Salah, Firmino
Tankar om elvan: Stora delar av elvan känns ganska given, men några av platserna kommer nog Klopp bestämma sent. Min gissning är att van Dijk bedöms redo att starta bredvid Matip, Klopp vill nog få igång honom så fort som möjligt. På mittfältet startar nog både Thiago och Henderson på bänken, för att ge lite balans tror jag att Klopp väljer Milner och Keita tillsammans med Fabinho. Längst fram handlar det om Jota eller Firmino centralt, det känns väldigt ovisst vem av dem det blir, men i en bortapremiär väger kanske brassens slit tyngre?
1. Welcome back to Premier League, tell us a bit about last season and your way back.
It was good! Given how awful we were throughout Project Restart, our expectations going into the 2020-21 Championship season were modest, even though we knew we had a core of good players (at least at Championship level). It was just hard to see how a losing mentality could be turned around in the space of about four weeks after the bulk of that squad had been so so poor in those closing ten games. But somehow they did it! A few new faces helped but so too did getting a motivated Emi Buendia back on board after it initially appeared the toys were about to be launched from the pram. Once the team had cleared its collective head of the relegation hangover, they rediscovered that winning feeling, and with one of the technically best squads in the league, plus Buendia who was easily the league’s best player, they won the league with a bit to spare. Was really good.
2. What has changed at Norwich since last time you were up?
Good question. I guess only time will tell if *anything* has changed. Hopefully, one improvement will be the collective mindset, as two seasons ago it was very much seen as a free hit and anything other than relegation would be an extraordinary achievement. This time around, it feels like they believe – having experienced a relegation – they will be better prepared, even if every pundit and bookie has us down as absolute certs for the drop before a ball’s even been kicked. Ultimately, our biggest problem is our proudest boast: that we’re a self-funding club that doesn’t rely in any shape or form on billionaire owners or external investment. It’s a laudable approach (in my eyes) but leaves us at a massive disadvantage compared to the other 19.
3. Which players are most important to your team?
Teemu Pukki is obviously the key man. Without his goals, we always struggle and that issue becomes ever more acute in the Premier League. The supply to him is, of course, vital too and with Buendia no longer of this parish, much of that burden will fall on Todd Cantwell. The fitness of Grant Hanley and Ben Gibson, our two most senior centre-backs is also key – two seasons ago we spent fat too much time with only one fit centre-back. Tim Krul too, as part of our spine, is so important, not only for his shot-stopping but for his leadership.
4. Daniel Farke has been your manager since 2017, what kind of manager is he?
An outstanding one! We’re so lucky to have him. He’s calm, measured and has us playing some of the most pleasing-on-the-eye football in living memory. He’s also a good man-manager and, importantly, is a thoroughly decent bloke. Given our financial limitations, the pressure on him to deliver in the PL isn’t too great, but if anyone can get a side to stay up on a shoestring (by PL standards) budget, it’s him and Stuart Webber (our sporting director).
5. How do you rate your chances of staying up this season? What will be most important for you to stay up?
Hhmm. I want to say good but realistically – for all the financial reasons I’ve mentioned above – for us to survive will take an alignment of the planets the like of which we haven’t seen for a while. Along the way, we’ll need some good luck too – something that tends to desert us when we enter the refined air of the Premier League – but I do believe it can be done.
6. What kind of game do you expect against Liverpool?
Oh god. Well considering our camp has been hit by Covid and at one point we had 11 players isolating, our preseason has been far from ideal and included two cancelled friendlies. Not the ideal way to prepare for an opener against you guys, so, I’m expecting an extremely tense, fraught evening with Liverpool enjoying most of the possession and us spending a lot of time shadow-chasing.
But it will be noisy and raucous. It will be the first time Carrow Road has been nearly full since February 2020, so don’t expect us to make it comfortable for your array of international superstars and demi-gods. and it may not be the stroll in the park that you’re expecting. Ultimately, your extra, expensively-acquired, quality will probably see you through to the win but we’ll hopefully give you a scare or two along the way.
Totaal reflektion: Det är alltid roligt att se när lag som står fast vid sin tränare vid nedflyttning lyckas komma tillbaka, precis som Norwich gjort nu. Det här är ett lag som nämns som en nedflyttningskandidat av många inför säsongen och tittar man på truppen finns det såklart fog för det, men med det sagt inledde Norwich sin senaste sejour i Premier League storstilat och var en obekväm överraskning för många lag, Tim Krul är en målvakt som kan stänga igen och att Teemu Pukki kan göra mål vet vi sedan tidigare, det är dock inget snack om att Liverpool är stora favoriter i den här matchen.