The FourFourTwo Preview: Norwich vs Liverpool
Luis Suarez’s favourite game of the season.
“This does not f****** slip now,” rallied Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard after his side beat title rivals Manchester City 3-2 at Anfield. “Listen. Listen. This is gone. We go to Norwich. Exactly the same. We go again. Come on!”
- Fulham 1-0 Norwich (Prem)
- Norwich 0-1 WBA (Prem)
- Swansea 3-0 Norwich (Prem)
- Norwich 2-0 S'land (Prem)
- So'ton 4-2 Norwich (Prem)
- Liverpool 3-2 Man City (Prem)
- West Ham 1-2 Liverpool (Prem)
- Liverpool 4-0 Spurs (Prem)
- Liverpool 2-1 S'land (Prem)
- Cardiff 3-6 Liverpool (Prem)
Whether you’re a Liverpool fan or not, it was stirring stuff. It’s been 24 years since the Reds won England’s top flight and now their fate lies in their own hands. Win their four remaining games they will top the Premier League.
They’ve propelled themselves into pole position with 10 wins on the bounce. In fact, from their last 15 games, they’ve collected 41 points from a possible 45. The last time they tasted defeat was against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on December 29. A win against the Canaries on Sunday will be the perfect fillip ahead of their potentially title-deciding rematch with the Blues.
For Norwich, the clash at Carrow Road is just the beginning of an awful run-in. Fixtures against Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal follow – not ideal when you’re just two points clear of the drop zone. A run of three successive defeats against fellow relegation candidates – Swansea, West Brom and Fulham – has left them holding a grenade with the pin pulled out.
New Norwich boss Neil Adams tried to rattle a few cages by making six changes to the starting line-up for the trip to Craven Cottage. The result? A 1-0 defeat. Adams will do well just to get a point before the end of the season. With Liverpool gunning for the title he can expect little charity from Brendan Rodgers’ team.
Rumours that Daniel Sturridge was out for six to eight weeks started to circulate on social media during the week, but Liverpool revealed he only suffered a small strain against City. Energetic midfielder Jordan Henderson starts a three-game suspension.
Elliott Bennett remains Norwich’s only absentee.
Player to watch: Joe Allen (Liverpool)
Henderson couldn’t have picked a worse time to receive a red card. He’ll now miss three of Liverpool’s last four games, including the visit of Chelsea, as the Reds chase their first-ever Premier League title. His energy, drive and determination have helped Gerrard adapt to his new deep-lying midfield role, as well as support Liverpool’s quicksilver attack. The former Sunderland man will be missed, but the Reds have two capable replacements in Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen ready to come in and fill his boots.
After Allen came on against City and helped shackle the threat of Sami Nasri and David Silva, he’s the most likely to step in. His performances during March, when he made a seamless transition into Rodgers’ diamond midfield, personified his tactical acumen and flexibility.
During Liverpool’s 6-3 win away to Cardiff, Allen made 7 ball recoveries and 5 tackles. A game later, against Sunderland, he showcased his ball-playing skills, making 55 successful passes from 59 attempts. He didn’t misplace a single pass in the attacking third, finding a team-mate’s feet 22 times. Allen also found the time to make three interceptions. Jordan who?
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- L'pool 5-1 Norwich (Prem, Dec 13)
- 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)
As Rodgers called on the Anfield faithful to drive his team forward against City, Adams is calling on Norwich’s home support to do the same. “There are a lot of Norwich fans who have been at Carrow Road when we have turned big teams over,” he said. “They know and I know what sort of atmosphere they can generate and that translates to the players. You always get fired up for the big teams so we say bring it on, we’ll be ready for it.”
Ooooohhh that’s big talk. Rodgers is equally fearless as he prepares his team for the trip to Norfolk.
“We just have to continue. We don't need to change. We play with no fear no matter who we play against whether it is Man City or at Norwich,” he said. “We have four games to go so there are still a lot of points to play for. We just have to concentrate on ourselves and keep doing the job and hopefully 10 wins becomes 11. Against all odds we are where we are and still fighting.”
Facts and figures
- Henderson is suspended for Liverpool – he’s started all their league games this season.
- Suarez has scored 11 goals in his last 4 games against Norwich.
- 10 of Norwich’s last 11 home games have produced fewer than 3 goals, with 7 having fewer than 2.
- Norwich have lost just 1 of their last 33 home games by more than 1 goal and only Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal have conceded fewer home goals this season.
- Liverpool have won their last 10 matches but they’ve won just 1 of their last 7 games against the bottom half by more than 1 goal.
Suarez has scored 11 goals in five games against Norwich. Knowing what’s at stake, do you fancy betting against him? Didn’t think so. The Canaries will put up a fight, but it won’t be enough. Liverpool to win 3-1.