Jurgen Klopp has handed out numerous Liverpool debuts over his time with the club, but the number of players who’ve scored in their first appearance is perhaps surprisingly only three.
Sadio Mane capped his debut with a stunning goal against Arsenal, Mohamed Salah scored the first of his 44 goals in 2017/18 with a point-blank strike at Watford, while Virgil van Dijk settled a Merseyside derby with a header at the Kop end.
None of the Reds’ three debutants in the 3-0 victory over Norwich City in the League Cup were able to add their name to this particular roll of honour, but they all acquitted themselves well overall.
Conor Bradley and Tyler Morton both had good games but it’s fair to say that the greatest level of interest was reserved for 16-year-old Kaide Gordon. He did not disappoint.
The Liverpool manager certainly seemed please with Gordon’s efforts when he spoke after the match.
“Kaide is good and has a lot of things to improve, a lot of things to settle, a lot of things to learn, but a lot of things are already there,” Klopp said.
“We are really happy to have him around and we will treat him carefully. I’m really [glad] that he is here, he is a big talent.”
The former Derby County youngster displayed several different aspects of his talents during the match with the Canaries.
Liverpool’s official video channel have even made a compilation of his touches for their subscribers, such was the eye-catching nature of much of his performance.
When an attacking player so young is thrust into the first-team, it’s natural to assume that their main impact will involve using their pace to bamboozle defenders and trying to get into the box to create chances and take shots.
And while there were aspects of this from Gordon at Norwich, his defensive work rate and ability to retain possession were arguably more impressive and may prove more important in terms of getting further opportunities from Klopp.
The young man’s first contribution of note was to press the home side’s centre-back Ben Gibson, forcing the ball into touch in front of the travelling Liverpool supporters who roared their approval.
Shortly afterward, Gordon closed down the Canaries’ goalkeeper, Angus Gunn, which made him launch the ball out of play.
Similarly, with the match drawing to a close and the result all but secure, the Reds’ new number 49 forced Gibson into conceding another throw-in by pressing him in the penalty box.
When he did have the ball himself, Gordon was largely resistant to Norwich’s attempts to win it back. He completed 25 of the 28 passes he attempted, with 22 of them occurring while he was in the opposition half of the pitch.
Most notable among this collection were the two passes he used to set up chances for teammates. The first occurred when Liverpool broke upfield immediately following Caoimhin Kelleher’s penalty save.
Gordon received the ball wide on the right and carried it into the box, and though his path to goal was blocked he laid it off to Curtis Jones who sent a shot whistling over the crossbar.
Even better was to come after the interval. Liverpool played just one long pass, which led to a shot at Carrow Road, and Gordon was the player responsible.
He received the ball from Ibrahima Konate, powered forward to the halfway line, and played in Origi, who put his shot just wide of the far post.
Liverpool only had six Opta-defined long-ball assists in the league and Europe last season, they’re not a common occurrence. If Gordon has that tool in his skill set, then it could prove to be an asset to the team in the years ahead.