Ready to Go: Why Do Liverpool’s Opening Day Fixtures Have So Many Goals In Them?

- - Analysis

Goalkeeper and ballThe new football season is a time for fresh hope, unrelenting optimism – misguided or otherwise – and dreams of trophies and major glory. The success, or otherwise, of the last campaign is long forgotten.

Of course, not every team can win on the opening day of the season, and so for some the pre-term excitement and anticipation is extinguished rather quickly to be replaced by those old feelings of ‘oh, here we go again’. Hello darkness, my old friend.

Over the past decade, Liverpool have enjoyed a rather charmed life on the opening day of the Premier League campaign – in fact, prior to the 2023/24 season, you have to go back to 2012 to find the last time that the Reds lost their first game of the term.

Not only have they won eight of those ten opening day skirmishes, Liverpool have scored and – in some cases – conceded an extraordinary amount of goals in their first league game of the campaign; far more than has been the average goals-per-game delivered by the Reds thereafter.

Why is that so? Who knows, perhaps the summer break has revitalised a set of players who, on Jurgen Klopp’s watch, have been asked to play a high octane, energy sapping pressing game.

So here’s a look at the last five opening day results for Liverpool. Note too that in 2016 they enjoyed a thrilling 4-3 victory over Arsenal and, a year later, participated in a rip-roaring 3-3 draw with Watford!

Fulham 2-2 Liverpool (August 6, 2022)

On the back of an excellent 2021/22 campaign, in which they amassed 92 points and lost out to Manchester City in the Premier League title race by a single point, renewed vigour was expected from the Reds in 2022/23.

But Fulham rather pooped the party in a 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage – only the second time in the past decade that Liverpool have dropped points on the opening day of the season.

Aleksandar Mitrovic opened the scoring for the Cottagers to hand the hosts a 1-0 lead at the half-time break, before Darwin Nunez equalised for the Reds in the second period.

But that man Mitrovic scored again – this time from the penalty spot after he had been fouled by Virgil van Dijk – to recapture the lead for Fulham, and it looked as if Liverpool’s season was going to start in the worse possible way.

However, Mo Salah was not to be denied – he scored on the opening day for the SIXTH consecutive season to rescue a point for the Reds.

Norwich City 0-3 Liverpool (September 14, 2021)

The super computer handed Liverpool a particularly friendly opening day fixture in 2021/22, and the boys in red took full advantage.

Norwich City had been promoted from the Championship but hadn’t really strengthened their squad, in their traditional fashion, and so they found themselves on a hiding to nothing against a Reds side that at this point was making a habit of free-scoring opening day displays.

That man Salah was at the heart of everything, providing two assists for Diogo Jota and Bobby Firmino and rounding off the scoring himself in the second half.

A 3-0 away win. Opening day mission accomplished.

Liverpool 4-3 Leeds United (September 12, 2020)

In their first Premier League game for 16 years, Leeds United reminded everyone what the top tier had been missing in a colossal battle at Anfield.

Enthused by the chaotic brilliance of Marcelo Bielsa’s coaching, the Yorkshire club twice came behind in a madcap opening 30 minutes – there were four goals in the opening half hour, with Salah and Van Dijk strikes cancelled out by Jack Harrison and Patrick Bamford.

Salah’s second meant the Reds took a 3-2 lead into half-time, before a cagier second period was brought to life by a Mateusz Klich equaliser.

Leeds fought and scrapped for every ball as they sought to hang on to their point, but as their legs faded from their high intensity strategy it was left to Salah to break their hearts from the penalty spot after Rodrigo fouled Fabinho.

Liverpool 4-1 Norwich City (August 9, 2019)

The Canaries once again had their feathers ruffled by Liverpool on the opening weekend of the Premier League season.

Any hopes Norwich fans had of a bright start to their latest attempt at Premier League survival was extinguished as early as the seventh minute, when Grant Hanley calamitously sliced the ball into his own net.

Despite a second half consolation from Teemu Pukki, things didn’t really improve for Norwich after their hapless start to the contest – Salah, Van Dijk and Divock Origi all on the scoresheet in another convincing opening day display from Liverpool.

Liverpool 4-0 West Ham (August 12, 2018)

Liverpool’s handy reputation for opening day demolitions preceded itself in a four-goal blitz against West Ham in 2018.

The Reds were two-up at the break through Salah and Sadio Mane, before the Senegalese ace added a third early in the second period.

Klopp was able to make a raft of substitutions as his side eased down through the gears, and one of those replacements – Daniel Sturridge – added a late fourth in the 88th minute.

All told, each of Liverpool’s last seven opening day fixtures have witnessed three or more goals – six of those have delivered four or more goals to confirm the Reds’ position as gameweek one entertainers extraordinaire!

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