Focus: Liverpool should fear fleet-footed Norwich
Norwich’s confident start to Premier League life is partly due to the clever one-twos of Wes Hoolahan and Nathan Redmond catching complacent opponents by surprise. With last season’s play-off winners looking fearless and fleet-footed in the final third, their visit to Anfield – where Liverpool have been error-prone this season – could be fruitful for Alex Neil’s side.
With Norwich playing an open 4-2-3-1, their five league games so far have produced 17 goals. And while they have conceded marginally more than they have scored, the majority of Norwich strikes have resulted from gaining possession deep in the opponents’ half and – through Hoolahan, Redmond and Cameron Jerome – sprinting towards goal. Hoolahan has been directly involved in six of their eight goals to date.
You sense that Norwich would be happy to finish in their current ninth place, but the same cannot be said for the side directly below them. Liverpool have looked vulnerable to directness, pace and counter-attacking power this season as Brendan Rodgers’ tactical masterplan falls apart.
After three seasons and three distinct tactical strategies, the fourth campaign no longer contains any Rodgerian hallmarks: Liverpool have averaged just 49.8% possession, have the 11th-best pass completion percentage (79.5%) and have won more aerial duels (22.2 per match) than any team bar Aston Villa.
The Reds’ tactical disarray is highlighted by further statistics. In the Premier League season so far, they have committed the third-most fouls (14.6 per match), earned the most yellow cards (15) and been dispossessed the most times (16.4 per match).
Liverpool are clearly disjointed and struggling for confidence. Norwich, full of vigour and explosive on the counter, will back themselves to earn a result at Anfield.