The Premier League is back.
Liverpool kick off the new campaign away to Norwich City who earned promotion back to England’s top division under Daniel Farke last season.
Jurgen Klopp could welcome back Virgil van Dijk to the starting XI after the Dutchman proved his fitness during pre-season.
Ibrahima Konate, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are all in contention to feature. Kostas Tsimikas is likely to start after Andy Robertson suffered an injury setback earlier this month.
So who will Klopp select at Carrow Road?
Here are our starting XI selections…
Ian Doyle: Happy new season! And what a new season it promises to be. Possibly.
Liverpool may have only bought one player thus far this summer, but it says a lot that the team I am suggesting starts the season contains less than half of the one that began the final game of last term at home to Crystal Palace.
That, in almost every way, seems a very, very, very long time ago.
To Norwich. Goalkeeper is Alisson Becker, right-back is Trent Alexander-Arnold and, with Andy Robertson stricken, Kostas Tsimikas comes in for his full Premier League debut at left-back.
Joel Matip is a given at centre-back. And alongside him, Virgil van Dijk has done just enough to edge Ibrahima Konate and make his first outing since last October.
Midfield is a bit more tricky. Not regarding Fabinho, he’s definitely in.
While it will cause angst among some fans, James Milner can start also. And with Thiago Alcantara and Jordan Henderson realistically not ready, it leaves one place between Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Harvey Elliott.
Keita for me. He’s done just about enough.
And up top, Diogo Jota gets the nod ahead of Roberto Firmino to join Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Sorted.
My team (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Milner, Keita; Salah, Jota, Mane.
It’s almost exactly 18 months ago since Liverpool last visited Carrow Road but feels like 18 lifetimes ago.
That blustery February afternoon substitute Sadio Mane’s clinical 78th minute strike secured the Reds’ 25th Premier League victory of the season (after 26 games played) to move them a whopping 25 points clear of a chasing pack who had long since given up hope.
Who could have imagined that less than a month later the football season would be suspended and Liverpool’s agonising 30-year wait for a league title dragged out a little longer as the coronavirus pandemic turned all of our lives upside down.
With a new campaign about to begin with supporters finally back in grounds, thoughts will turn to those no longer with us and able to share in that joy but football – like time – ploughs on inexorably.
Liverpool finally won their long-yearned league title, lost it and are now looking to win it back again, with those who like an omen enjoying the fact the last Reds’ title season started with a fixture against the Canaries.
Two years ago the Reds roared into a four-goal half-time lead against Daniel Farke’s newly-promoted side at Anfield but Klopp will no doubt happily take a scruffy 1-0 as long as his side get three points on the board.
His goalkeeper and full back selections for the Saturday teatime kick off largely look after themselves with newly-tied down Alisson Becker and Trent Alexander-Arnold looking to improve on difficult campaigns last time around and Kostas Tsimikas a shoo-in at left back for the injured Andy Robertson.
Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez, whose injuries cast such a shadow over last season, are in contention Klopp said in the week but given the methodical and thorough nature of Liverpool’s rehab programmes for them, I expect Joel Matip and new boy Ibrahima Konate to be given the nod in Norfolk.
With skipper Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara having returned late to training after their Euro 2020 exploits, Fabinho and James Milner look likely to be given the nod in midfield alongside Naby Keita who, after yet another promising pre-season, will have supporters now finally be his time to shine.
Up front, the big decision is whether Roberto Firmino or Diogo Jota will form the attacking trident with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane and it’s Bobby the Brazilian who gets the nod for me on the back of his Osasuna brace, with Jota and the likes of Harvey Elliott, Takumi Minamo and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain provided ample further ammunition from the bench if required.
My team (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Konate, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Keita, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
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Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip are easy selections at the back.
So too, relatively speaking, is Kostas Tsimikas after an impressive pre-season and with Andy Robertson on the sidelines.
Virgil van Dijk starts as well – he needs the minutes and he can help guide Tsimikas through the game, even if the Dutchman is still on the road to full sharpness.
James Milner gets the nod in midfield so he can help out on the left side if needed, with Fabinho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain making up the central trio.
And Roberto Firmino just edges out Diogo Jota, with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane completing the front three.
My team (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mane.