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6 tackles, 5 recoveries: Keita shows defensive strengths on opening day

Naby Keita gave an excellent display of defensive solidity in Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Norwich City on Premier League opening day.

The Guinean was given his chance in the starting line-up after an excellent pre-season.

Many fans are demanding that the club sign a replacement for Gini Wijnaldum, but Keita’s showing has proved that this may not be necessary.

Norwich 0-3 Liverpool

Liverpool made a strong start to the season with a 3-0 victory at Carrow Road.

The Reds dominated the first half, but did not create all that many clear-cut chances.

However, they did go into the break 1-0 up after a Diogo Jota goal 26 minutes in.

Norwich had a bit more joy in terms of possession and chances in the second half, but they could not prevent Liverpool from adding two more goals.

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One came from substitute Roberto Firmino after 65 minutes, while Mo Salah sealed the win 10 minutes later.

Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

The Egyptian was the undoubted star of the show, with a goal and two assists, although there were a few fairly good performances for the Reds.

Jurgen Klopp selected what could be seen as a second-choice midfield three of James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita.

While they didn’t offer an awful lot in attack, they were sound defensively.

Of the three, Keita certainly gave the best display.

Keita showed that he can do the defensive side

We know that Keita is a gifted footballer. His dribbling and passing are superb, while he also has an eye for goal.

What some fans, not all, have doubted is his defensive side. Klopp demands that his midfielders are always aware of their duties going backwards as well as forwards.

Well, Keita proved against Norwich that he is absolutely fine from a defensive standpoint.

Obviously, Liverpool kept a clean sheet. So, this was job done in terms of how well the team defended.

Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Norwich has one or two chances, yes, but they certainly didn’t carve us open. Liverpool’s midfield certainly had control of the game, at least until they went 2-0 up anyway.

Keita was a big reason for this.

He was always in the right place at the right time, which is an incredibly underrated part of midfield play, but an incredibly important part for Jurgen Klopp.

He made a game-high six tackles, which was twice as many as the next highest in red.

The 26-year-old won six duels, while he also made five recoveries.

There was a few flashes of his ability on the ball but it was certainly toned down a speck.

Some may say it was a Wijnaldum-like performance from him.

If he can retain the incredible attacking ability that he has and mix it with maturity and stability like he showed against Norwich, then Naby Keita will be a top, top player for the football club.

We are absolutely certain that Klopp will have been very impressed with his man.

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