20th September, 2015; 16.00 BST
Liverpool-Norwich City games will always be remembered for a certain Uruguayan genius. Luis Suarez loved this fixture and scored a hat-trick of hat-tricks for the Reds, including four goals in a match in Liverpool’s very successful 2013/14 season. Compare those games to now, Liverpool seem to be completely devoid of any attacking edge. They won’t have any Suarez to take them out of this slump but Rodgers will hope that his side can take full points from this home fixture.
Meanwhile, Alex Neil’s side comes into this game fresh from victory against Bournemouth and might not find the trip to Anfield isn’t as intimidating as it used to be a few seasons ago.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Liverpool have back-to-back home games, with Aston Villa the next to visit, and these two home fixtures couldn’t have come at a better time. Rodgers needs to win to calm the supporters, majority of whom want him gone. Him and Liverpool need stability and more positive headlines.
Liverpool duo Daniel Sturridge and Jordan Henderson could be fit to return against Norwich. Both will find themselves on the bench if they’re to feature at all, but Rodgers must be feeling extremely relieved at the return of two of his most important players.
The Northern Irishman rested several key players for the trip to Bordeaux midweek. The likes of Clyne, Skrtel, Milner and Benteke will automatically walk inside the team but the manager might need to make a few tough decisions with some players putting themselves in contention for a start after a positive performance in France.
Mamadou Sakho started the game and captained the side in the absence of James Milner and Jordan Henderson. The Frenchman put on an extremely solid performance and impressed widely. He also agreed to extend his contract on Friday. Sakho absolutely has to start for the Reds. The match against Bordeaux showed that the former PSG defender is the only good one Liverpool have, someone actually being able to lead and organize at the back. If Rodgers drops him against Norwich, he will risk losing whatever remaining fans he still has.
18-year-old Jordan Rossiter was another player who was very impressive mid-week but with Milner returning, it is unlikely he will get a chance to get his first Premier League start. Alberto Moreno also put on a convincing performance for the Reds but the Spaniard will not start unless Rodgers opts to change the formation to three at the back, in which case Moreno would be operated as a wing-back. Adam Lallana scored a good goal but was largely absent throughout the match. However, Rodgers may prefer him to Roberto Firmino and start the Englishman instead. Christian Benteke will lead the line with support from Philippe Coutinho behind. It will be interesting to see what formation Liverpool shift to once Daniel Sturridge is introduced.
The big question for Rodgers will be what formation to use. The 3-4-2-1 seems to bring out the best of his best players but he might still persist with his favored 4-3-3.
Probable Line-up (4-3-3): Mignolet; Clyne, Skrtel, Sakho, Gomez; Lucas, Can, Milner; Lallana, Coutinho, Benteke
Norwich defender Steven Whittaker will return to the squad after a ban, but Andre Wisdom will be unable to contest this game against his parent club. Injured duo Gary Hooper and Youssouf Mulumbu remain unavailable for the trip.
Norwich must be feeling confident of their chances against a dented Liverpool side. In fact, Norwich and Liverpool have the same number of points and the Canaries actually sit a spot above Liverpool in the ninth place in the table. A win at Anfield would be massive for the visitors and they know Anfield is not the fortress it used to be. More importantly, Norwich have genuinely been playing some very good football (and Liverpool’s vulnerability in the defensive third will be something they can capitalize on). Norwich’s tally of seven points from the opening five matches is their best start to a Premier League season since they had 10 points at the same stage in 1993.
The performances of Wes Hoolahan and Nathan Redmond will be extremely important for Norwich to get anything out of this game. Hoolahan has been directly involved in six of their eight goals to date and is the talisman for Norwich this season. Matt Jarvis scored on his debut for the Cherries and could also prove to be a threat for the Reds.
Neil will once again set his team in the 4-2-3-1 system, one that has paid dividends thus far. Norwich can extract a result here with the use of directness, pace and counter-attacking power, things that Liverpool look so vulnerable to, at the moment. And if Rodgers decides to embark on a suicide mission and persist with Dejan Lovren for this game, the likes of Jerome and Hoolahan could cause even more damage.
Probable Line-up (4-2-3-1): Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin, Bassong, Brady; Redmond, Howson, Tettey, Jarvis; Hoolahan; Jerome
- There have been 26 goals scored in the last five league meetings – 21 of them by Liverpool.
- Liverpool could lose three Premier League matches in a row under Brendan Rodgers for only the second time. They suffered three straight defeats in November 2014.
- They have conceded six goals in their last two league matches, having started the season with three successive clean sheets.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 10 league matches against Norwich (W9, D1).
Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City)
Wes Hoolahan had provided four assists for the Canaries, which is more than any player in the top flight this season. As mentioned before, his contribution and performance will be extremely important for the visitors. The 33-year-old has enjoyed a sensational start to the season and is perhaps playing his best football to date. He would hope he can cap off a good performance with a favorable result on Sunday.
Liverpool 2 Norwich 1
Liverpool are not threatening anymore but they are in a position where anything less than three points is going to get them in a position they wouldn’t want to be in, two years in a row. The return of Philippe Coutinho will also boost their chances and for Rodgers, this game will be very crucial. Expect Liverpool to somehow get three points after an inspiring performance from the visitors.