LIVERPOOL

v

NORWICH CITY

Anfield, Liverpool

October 22, 2011; 1630 GMT

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There is no room for error for the Reds when they host Norwich City in the late kick-off this Saturday. There should be no more hiding behind ‘unlucky performances’. It is a home banker and anything less than three points shall suck a major bulk of optimism away from Anfield.

There are two major reasons why this game is so vitally important for the Merseyside club. First, they need to rectify their inability to finish off teams at Anfield.A�Liverpool should have beaten Man United last weekend and failed to do so because of spurned chances and a lapse in concentration. Wolves gave the club a might scare and Sunderland took points off them on day one.

Second, the visit of Norwich starts a sequence of games that will define whether Liverpool is going to be on the fringes of the top four or a very real part of it. A trip to the Hawthorns is sandwiched between the visits of Norwich and Swansea to Anfield in the league and nine points should be a very real target for the club. A trip to Chelsea follows this trio of fixtures after which Liverpool welcome the current league leaders Man City to town.

Kenny Dalglish looks for momentum...

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Liverpool currently sit in fifth spot, two points behind Newcastle and only a point above Tottenham having played one game more than the London club. The last time these two sides met at Anfield was back in 2004-05, which turned out to be the match that made the rest of the league stand up and take notice of the midfield maestro Xabi Alonso. The Reds will be hoping Charlie Adam can produce a similarly scintillating performance when he pairs up with Steven Gerrard in midfield.

Norwich, on the other hand, are sitting a respectable ninth in the league; only three points behind their opponents. Paul Lambert’s wonderful side have continued their momentum of successive promotions into the top flight. They have managed to win three out of their last four matches and in the one defeat, they were unlucky to not come away with anything from a trip to Old Trafford. The Canaries are currently the best of the newly-promoted bunch and love to surprise teams in attack. They are coming off a well-deserved win against Swansea at home.

When it comes to Anfield, though, Liverpool usually have enough resources to pull out a win. Boosted by the scoring return of their inspirational captain and an injury-free squad of players, can Liverpool put on a dominant performance like the one against Bolton at Anfield?

Team News and Tactical Brief

Liverpool FC

Kenny Dalglish has an injury-free squad at his disposal. However, he does have one absentee and a crucial one as well. Lucas Leiva picked up his fifth yellow card of the season and will be forced to sit out this game with a one-match suspension. Glenn Johnson and Fabio Aurelio, along with Daniel Agger, are once again in serious contention for selection.

However, Dalglish is likely to stick with Martin Kelly and Jose Enrique as full-backs and would welcome the return of Daniel Agger, who will replace the mistake-prone Martin Skrtel in the centre. Glenn Johnson is expected to play some part in the match and so is Craig Bellamy. Liverpool’s 35 million pound signing from Newcastle United did not play a part in the United game but will start alongside Luis Suarez on Saturday. Steven Gerrard and Charlie Adam will man the centre of midfield, while Dirk Kuyt and Stewart Downing will utilize the wings.

Luis Suarez may have been slightly restricted in a lone striker role against United, but expect him to cause havoc from deep with Andy Carroll burdening the responsibility of keeping the centre-backs on their toes. Steven Gerrard is likely to sit back due to his superior defensive qualities to Charlie Adam; the Scottish midfielder is set to play a more attacking role. Liverpool’sA�AchillesA�heel could be the temptation to pump it long to Andy Carroll; something they may have to consciously avoid.

While all this seems straightforward, Dalglish may just give Jordan Henderson a start after his wonderful cameo against Man United from centre of midfield. This would mean sacrificing Andy Carroll, which is not going to please the big man. An embarrassment of riches and a plethora of combinations available for Dalglish, but he is likely to stick to the tried and tested for these three points.

Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-2):A�Reina (GK); Kelly, Carragher, Agger, Enrique; Kuyt, Gerrard(c), Adam, Downing; Suarez, Carroll

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Norwich City FC

Paul Lambert is expected to play the same line-up for the fifth consecutive match. The Canaries were dealt a major blow two weeks ago when they found outA�striker James Vaughan will be ruled out until the New Year.A�Ex-Liverpool defender Daniel Ayala is also missing, while Elliott Ward and Zak Whitbread are doubtful after recovering from injuries.

Lambert is going to deploy a 4-5-1 formation with Steve Morison, who is gaining a reputation of a pest for defenders, playing as a lone striker. He will be supported by Elliott Bennett on the right, Anthony Pilkington on the left and Wesley Hoolahan just behind. David Fox and Bradley Johnson will play a key role in breaking up play and helping out on wings as well; Johnson having run the most distance in the league thus far.

The Norwich defence hasn’t held up too well under pressure and it is sure to be tested at Anfield. However, an encouraging performance against United must have done wonders to them. At Old Trafford, Norwich’s slick passing and great numbers in counter-attack should have helped them win an improbable point at least.

Probable Starting Line-upA�(4-5-1):A�Ruddy; Naughton, Barnett, Martin, Tierney; Bennett, Fox, Johnson, Pilkington, Hoolahan(c); Morison

Key Facts

  1. Lucas will miss his first league game since January due to picking up his fifth booking of the campaign a week ago.
  2. Liverpool have allowed the joint-fewest shots on target this season (27).
  3. Norwich have conceded five goals in the final 15 minutes of games this season – more than any other team.
  4. Craig Bellamy began his career with Norwich and made 91 appearances in total between 1997 and 2000, scoring 34 goals.
  5. Norwich have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last five games.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR

Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

 

Liverpool awaits his return to full form..

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Liverpool skipper made a great scoring return to action and although not spectacular, he put in a solid shift against Man United. Gerrard is expected to command the midfield this Saturday, so keep an eye out for some moments of brilliance. This will be his first proper chance to link up with Suarez and Carroll.

TheHardTackle’s PREDICTION

Liverpool 3-0 Norwich

Liverpool will be eager to put behind their disappointment of not gaining all three points last weekend and expect no mucking around from them this time around. Norwich have been in good form but they are unlikely to possess enough quality to hurt an Anfield outfit with options galore!

TheHardTackle’s BLAST FROM THE PAST

A�.

A Xabi Alonso masterclass defined Norwich’s last visit to Anfield!

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