BILLY BUNTER

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Unfancied Norwich can score a goal at Anfield

TV: Sky One, Sky Sports Premier League & Main Event, 8pm Friday

Tall orders don’t come much taller than a trip to Anfield first up though Norwich shouldn’t fear the mauling that most judges have them in for in the Premier League's opening game.

If there is a good time to be playing Liverpool away then you could argue that before the European champs and Premier League runners-up have got into their stride is probably that time.

Norwich are likely to be bossed, outpassed and largely dominated by Jurgen Klopp’s super-talented side and the home win looks hard to oppose. It’s also around the 2-13 mark.

But Liverpool and both teams to score looks a better option than, say, the Reds to win to nil.

Norwich came up scoring goals and leaking them (a Championship version of an older Liverpool) and they would be mad to attempt to sit in and fend off the tide of pressure that is coming their way, because it just won't work.

Nineteen opponents arrived at Anfield for Premier League games last season and 17 of them left with nothing. Only Manchester City and Leicester managed to nick draws.

The Canaries are almost certainly not at full strength defensively anyway – Christoph Zimmerman hasn’t played in pre-season because of injury – and their full-backs, Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis, are far better going forward than retreating.

Norwich came up attacking under Daniel Farke and while they’ll have to modify their tactics somewhat against far superior sides than they were playing last year, when they rattled in 93 goals, two blocks of four is not their style.

For Liverpool, it’s back to business with Klopp hopeful that the summer break hasn’t interrupted the team's progress.

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They have an amazing record against Norwich – they’ve scored 39 goals in their last 12 Premier League showdowns with the Norfolk side – though much has changed since. And while Liverpool are better than when the sides last met in a 5-4 away win at Carrow Road in January 2016, so are Norwich.

It’s clearly possible that Liverpool could run riot. Since they last tasted defeat at home in the league – beaten 2-1 by Crystal Palace in April 2017 – they have played 40 Premier League matches in front of their own fans, winning 30 of those, 17 by three-goal margins or greater.

The Mane-Firmino-Salah trident is sharper than pretty much any other strikeforce in Europe, though Mane has yet to appear in pre-season after an extended run with Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations and there was a lot of rustiness in Liverpool’s overall Community Shield performance against Manchester City last Sunday.

As for VAR’s grand entrance into the Premier League, it will be a factor. Games are so quick and intense with so much goalmouth action, that it has to be a factor.

In The Big Kick-Off, the Racing Post’s pre-season betting guide, several bookmakers explained why spot-kick prices in matches will be shortened because of VAR, even talking about laying no more than 6-4 about a penalty depending on how the first few games go. Yet you can have 2-1 about a penalty for this game.

This looks more like one of those 6-4 matches. The ability of Liverpool’s clever frontmen to win fouls in the box and the incessant pressure they will be applying means, with VAR involved as well, a pen is very much on the cards.

Recommendations
Liverpool & both teams to score
Penalty to be awarded

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Match in Focus

12:30 Sa 19Oct BT1

Everton v West Ham

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Everton have lost their last four league matches
Expert verdict
Marco Silva is a man under pressure and the Everton manager will come under further scrutiny should his team fail to get a positive result against West Ham. Four consecutive Premier League losses have seen the toiling Toffees slip down to 18th place. The Hammers were made to rue missed chances when they lost 2-1 to Crystal Palace last time out but are eighth in the table on merit and are among the teams vying to gatecrash the top six. Both teams are prone to defensive mistakes so backing a barnstormer of a draw looks value.