Liverpool did not exactly take long to underline their Premier League title credentials for 2019-20.
Kicking off the season at Anfield on Friday, Jurgen Klopp’s side finished the first half with a 4-0 lead over Norwich City, playing their first game back in the top flight since winning last season’s Championship.
An own goal from Grant Hanley, a Mohamed Salah strike and a header apiece from Virgil van Dijk and Divock Origi put the European champions in a commanding position inside the opening 45 minutes of a game they won 4-1.
Remarkably, Norwich had more shots in the first half than the Reds (seven, compared to six) and could easily have kept the scores closer had Marco Stiepermann been more clinical.
As it was, Liverpool finished the first half of a Premier League match having scored four goals for the sixth time in their history. Here’s how they managed it before…
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 9, 2019
02/05/98: Liverpool 5-0 West Ham
This was a notable match largely because it involved Jason McAteer scoring not once, but twice, and both in the first half.
The Reds, managed then by Roy Evans, got off and running when ‘boy wonder’ Michael Owen struck after only four minutes.
McAteer, not exactly a player renowned for his goalscoring prowess, had the ball in the net twice in the space of four minutes before Oyvind Leonhardsen made it 4-0 on the stroke of half-time. Paul Ince added the fifth after the break.
Liverpool would end the season in third, 13 points behind champions Arsenal – a team they beat 4-0 only four days after defeating the Hammers.
30/08/98: Newcastle United 1-4 Liverpool
Another first-half thrashing in 1998, and another display of imperious finishing from Michael Owen.
The teenager, fresh from his sparkling displays at the World Cup in France, hit a hat-trick within the first 32 minutes at St. James’ Park and celebrated by rubbing his hands together with glee, probably at the thought of playing another 45 minutes against that defence.
Newcastle did get a goal back through Stephane Guivarc’h, but Patrik Berger made sure the second half was largely a formality.
02/12/06: Wigan Athletic 0-4 Liverpool
Speaking of second-half formalities, this meeting at the DW Stadium might as well have been called off once the half-time whistle sounded.
Rafael Benitez’s visitors made light work of Wigan, thanks largely to a Craig Bellamy double inside the first 26 minutes.
Bellamy also played a part in the third, teeing up Dirk Kuyt to score after a good team move that started with goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
A miserable half ended shortly after Lee McCulloch deflected Steven Gerrard’s cross into his own net.
08/02/2014: Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal
Before 2018-19, the last time Liverpool got so close to a title win only to fall agonisingly short was in 2013-14, when Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez made them the most exciting team in the division.
This first half against Arsenal laid bare both the Reds’ attacking brilliance and the brittleness of Arsene Wenger’s side – and showed what a goal threat Martin Skrtel could be.
The centre-back converted two Steven Gerrard deliveries to put Liverpool 2-0 up after 10 minutes, and by the time Sterling and Sturridge made it 4-0 with only 20 minutes gone, few could quite believe what they were seeing.
Sterling hit another in the second half before Mikel Arteta got a consolation from the penalty spot, as Arsenal tried to forget about a scoreline that surely would not be repeated…
29/12/2018: Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal
Anything Brendan Rodgers could do, Jurgen Klopp could do… well, just as well, in this case.
Liverpool gave themselves a nine-point lead at the top of the table with another Gunners demolition job of the kind that would have made a fair few New Year’s Eve parties on Merseyside a whole lot of fun.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles actually put Arsenal ahead after 11 minutes, but Roberto Firmino scored twice in barely 120 seconds, Sadio Mane buried from Andrew Robertson’s cross and Mohamed Salah netted a penalty in first-half stoppage time.
Firmino completed his hat-trick from the spot after the interval as Liverpool laid down a marker to their title challengers, although they would, of course, lose out in the end to Manchester City.
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