Football Expert & Columnist
Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville debate Liverpool's defensive 'concerns' after Norwich win
Jurgen Klopp's side ease past Norwich in Premier League opener thanks to goals from Divock Origi, Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah
Last Updated: 10/08/19 11:06am
Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville debated whether Liverpool's defence should be an area of concern after they started their 2019/20 Premier League season with a 4-1 win over Norwich.
Four first-half goals saw Jurgen Klopp's side ease to victory at Anfield, but Norwich created several chances and eventually scored in the 64th minute through Teemu Pukki.
The result follows a pre-season campaign during which Liverpool also struggled to keep a clean sheet.
Having been Liverpool's strength last year - with just 22 goals conceded in 38 Premier League games - Carragher said the defence is a "bit of a worry".
"The reason we are questioning it is because this was the team with the best defence last season and they almost looked like you couldn't get past them with Virgil van Dijk.
"I was a little bit surprised that Joel Matip missed out [against Norwich]. I do believe Joe Gomez is Liverpool's next best centre-back behind Van Dijk but the way Matip performed at the end of last season and in the Champions League final, I think he can feel hard done by.
"It's not just today against Norwich, and you can say maybe they have taken it easy, but you look at the Community Shield against Manchester City and also pre-season didn't go as well as you would have liked defensively.
"I am sure when Jurgen Klopp goes through the game tomorrow, he will think they need to be tighter. Van Dijk was not happy at times with different players dropping off and pushing on.
"It wasn't the solid backline that we saw so much last season. It will come back, but from Liverpool's point of view, you want it to come back quickly because you don't want to be looking like a team who starts to concede goals as that puts doubt throughout the side."
However, former Manchester United defender Neville expects Liverpool to raise their game defensively, starting in midweek when they face Chelsea in the European Super Cup.
"If I was thinking back historically I wouldn't be worried at all by that tonight. For me, it was a nice game for Liverpool. It was a bit sloppy but if Norwich had scored then Liverpool would have stepped it up again. They were always in control. We had hundreds of games like that at Old Trafford when we were a little bit off it and a bit careless.
"Jurgen Klopp and Joe Gomez have said they have not changed anything, but when you push up a bit higher like they are doing, and they are not on the half-turn ready to run back and feel static, that is something that might cause you some concern.
"Ultimately they will be a bit more serious when they play Chelsea on Wednesday. They will step up."
'Inventive Norwich showed improvement'
While Liverpool's defence looked unconvincing at times, Norwich were even more open at the back.
It looked like the visitors were set to suffer a heavy defeat as Liverpool raced into a 4-0 lead inside 42 minutes. However, the newly-promoted side improved after the break and Neville said there were signs of "encouragement".
"Football-wise, they were bright, inventive and tried to play the right way. Myself and Carragher have sat here over the years and battered teams for defending deep, playing 4-4-2, ugly to watch and boring us to death.
"We cannot now sit there and say it is really bad when we see a team split the centre-backs and try and play out and be inventive and take the ball on the half-turn.
"In a perfect world, there would be a balance but what we can't do is have a go at one side for being really defensive and not trying to get forward and then on the other hand, be really critical of a team who are attacking, trying to get men in the box.
"I was worried at half-time, I said I felt sorry for Norwich, but I'm a lot more pleased at the end. There were some real improvements in the second half. Yes, Liverpool could have scored more, but Teemu Pukki scoring was a big moment for Norwich City to give the fans something to go home on.
"They also didn't get embarrassed. If they had lost by seven or eight, it could have had a real impact on you.
"My immediate thought at the end of the game is there is encouragement for Norwich in terms of the football they played, the youth of the team, the energy, the style of play and that they didn't get done in the second half in a way that could have really harmed those young lads' mentality."
This season you can watch Premier League highlights just after the full-time whistle for free and without being a Sky Sports subscriber.
We'll bring you highlights of every Premier League game on the Sky Sports website and app at full-time or from 5.15pm on Saturday afternoons.
You'll also be able to watch In-game goals from Sky Live games on Twitter and catch Premier League highlights on our Sky Sports Football YouTube channel.