Once again, Liverpool will meet the winners of the previous Championship campaign on the opening day of the Premier League season, with Norwich City welcoming Jurgen Klopp’s men to Carrow Road on Saturday evening.
The Canaries amassed 97 points en route to the second-tier title last term, while Liverpool managed to end a topsy-turvy Premier League campaign in third position.
As with every title-winning side, there were several blips along the way, but Norwich were simply a class above for the entirety of the 2020-21 Championship season, finishing six points clear of second-placed Watford and sealing an immediate return to the big time.
Rewarded with a new four-year contract for his efforts, Daniel Farke prepares to navigate another Premier League campaign in charge of the Canaries, whose tally of five wins and 21 points in the 2019-20 season saw them finish rock bottom of the pile, in spite of some individual shining lights.
One of those standout players – Emiliano Buendia – will now be lining up against Farke’s side following a move to Aston Villa, but Todd Cantwell and Teemu Pukki will endeavour to once again prove their top-flight credentials, with Norwich facing another inevitable fight to avoid a swift demotion.
Having beaten King’s Lynn Town, Lincoln City, Huddersfield Town and Gillingham in pre-season, Norwich tested themselves against Premier League opposition during their final warm-up match, but they were comfortably dispatched 3-0 by Newcastle United earlier this month.
However, recent coronavirus chaos has disrupted Farke’s pre-season plans a considerable amount, with any chances of a first opening-day victory in the Premier League since the inaugural 1992-93 season slim enough as it is.
Long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip spelled the end of Liverpool’s title defence very early on last term, and Jurgen Klopp would proceed to downplay his side’s chances of even making the top four during their abysmal February and March period.
A dismal streak of six defeats from seven would see Liverpool languish in eighth position with 10 games left to play, but a 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers kickstarted an end-of-season revival for the Merseysiders, who went unbeaten in their last 10 and won their last five to pip Chelsea and Leicester City to third place on the final day.
Despite finishing 17 points adrift of runaway champions Manchester City, all has been rather quiet on the transfer front at Anfield, but the signing of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig has bolstered their defensive ranks at a time where their three long-term victims continue to build up their match fitness.
Liverpool’s stellar end-of-season run also saw them claim 19 points from the last 21 on offer away from home, and their opening-day endeavours tend to be truly thrilling affairs, as evidenced by their 4-3 success over Leeds United at the start of the 2020-21 campaign.
Another goalfest in Liverpool’s favour could be on the menu at Carrow Road, as the Reds are currently on a seven-game winning streak away to their upcoming opponents and have not lost to them in the top flight since April 1994.
Norwich City pre-season form:
Liverpool pre-season form: