The FourFourTwo Preview: Liverpool vs Norwich
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Is this where the wheels start coming off for Liverpool? If the evidence of Sunday’s dismal defeat at Hull is anything to go by, the answer may well be yes. With Daniel Sturridge’s ankle knack putting him out until mid-January, the Reds will need the sharpshooting Suarez to be even more superhuman than usual if they’re to maintain the early-season form that lifted them to second.
- Hull 3-1 Liverpool (Prem)
- Everton 3-3 Liverpool (Prem)
- Liverpool 4-0 Fulham (Prem)
- Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool (Prem)
- Liverpool 4-1 West Brom (Prem)
- Norwich 1-0 Palace (Prem)
- Newcastle 2-1 Norwich (Prem)
- Norwich 3-1 West Ham (Prem)
- Man City 7-0 Norwich (Prem)
- Man United 4-0 Norwich (Prem)
That the Uruguayan didn’t bag at the KC Stadium was perhaps even more surprising than the result. But not to fear, Liverpool fans – he’s netted seven goals in his last three games against Norwich.
"Anfield has been a really good place for us this calendar year so we need to get over this,” moaned boss Brendan Rodgers after the newly promoted Tigers stuck three past his side’s unusually leaky backline. The Reds have kept only one clean sheet in their last 10 league matches, after six in the seven games before that.
Norwich had a good weekend, though, squeezing past Crystal Palace at Carrow Road to consign new Eagles boss Tony Pulis to a disappointing start with the league’s bottom side. A second goal of the season from Hoopdoggydog’s (that's Gary Hooper, if you aren't 'street', yo) was enough to seal a 1-0 win.
Winning two in three has hauled the Canaries four points above Fulham in the drop zone, and it’s games like Saturday’s that will ultimately prove the difference between survival and a return to the Championship dogfight for Chris Hughton’s men.
But they’ve only scored in two of their last six road trips, and shipped an eye-watering 17 in the process. That trouncing at the Etihad has a lot to answer for.
Sturridge is out until mid-January with an ankle injury picked up in training late last week, while Kolo Toure (hip) is touch-and-go after picking up a knock in the defeat to Hull. Jose Enrique (knee) and Sebastian Coates (ACL) are long-term casualties. Philippe Coutinho, however, is back in the fold after fully recovering from injury.
Norwich have one of the league’s most extensive injury lists, meanwhile, with Ricky van Wolfswinkel (ankle) their most likely to return next, but not for a couple of weeks. Robert Snodgrass, Elliott Bennett (both knee), Anthony Pilkington (hamstring) and Alex Tettey (ankle) are all absentees.
Player to watch: Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
When he ticks, Liverpool usually do too. Only Mesut Ozil has more Premier League assists than the England man this season, and the hosts will need their beloved skipper to produce once again if Suarez is to put Norwich to bed once more.
The 33-year-old has weighed in with his fair share of goals this season – three, so far – and must continue leading by example with the relatively inexperienced trio of Victor Moses, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling playing just ahead.
His passing is excellent, with accuracy of almost 87% this season. A week-and-a-half ago at Everton he was on hand with a typically all-action display, leading the way in passes overall and in the attacking third, and grabbing an assist for Sturridge’s late equaliser. Still so important at Anfield.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- L'pool 5-0 Norwich (Prem, Jan 13)
- Norwich 2-5 L'pool (Prem, Sep 12)
- Norwich 0-3 L'pool (Prem, Apr 12)
- L'pool 1-1 Norwich (Prem, Oct 11)
- Norwich 1-2 L'pool (Prem, Jan 05)
Liverpool boss Rodgers, usually staunch in praising his side after a performance of any kind no matter how dismal, was refreshingly constructive after Sunday’s defeat. "There's no doubt the quality in our squad, with all due respect, isn't big enough to cope with two big players like that [Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho] missing," he said. "This little period now will test us.”
Chris Hughton, however, was chuffed with his defence for a change. The fact Norwich won certainly eases the pressure on the former Newcastle boss, but his side will have to pull a rabbit out of the hat to keep this “better feeling” going.
Rodgers’ men came out on top both times when the two sides met last season, although Hughton does have a win over his opposite number – a 3-0 tonking of Reading with Newcastle during Rodgers’ ill-fated spell at the Madejski Stadium in 2009.
Facts and figures
- Norwich have only won back to back Premier League games once since December 2012.
More facts at FFT’s Liverpool vs Norwich Stats Zone page
Tips and trends
- Liverpool’s record without Sturridge reads W2 D3 L3, while with him it is W13 D6 L3 since he joined the club.
- Luis Suarez has scored 9 in 8 games this season, and netted 7 in his last 3 against Norwich.
- Only Manchester City’s games average more goals (3.77) than Liverpool’s (3.15).
- Norwich have gone into the break trailing in more games than any other side (8), including in 5 of their 6 away matches.
- If matches finished at half-time Liverpool would be 3 points clear at the top.
- Norwich have lost their last 3 matches with Liverpool by at least 3 goals.
- Since Chris Hughton took charge, Norwich have lost 5 of their 7 trips to top-six sides.
Find the best odds with Bet Butler
Liver birds to stuff the Canaries in straightforward home win. Suarez on the scoresheet (well, duh). 3-1.