It is a fight for two different things for both Norwich and Liverpool FC, as both the clubs go into the fixture, as the end of the winter transfer window looms near.
While Norwich are fighting a relegation battle, Liverpool FC are trying to haul themselves out of mid-table obscurity, and into the European spots. However, the Reds have been heavily inconsistent (especially while playing the smaller sides, and Norwich would be looking to take full advantage of that.
Alex Neil and his new-found appreciation of defence
Alex Neil was lauded for making his side play an entertaining brand of football, en route to the Premier League last season. That however, was in the Championship, and the Premier League is a completely different proposition. After struggling early on, Neil has decided to take up a much more practical approach. He has since then turned his side into a team that plays tightly, without much possession of the ball.
However, Neil has been looking for that attacking byte in his side, and new signing Steven Naismith might just be the attacking force that he was looking for. The former Everton man is a tricky customer to deal with, and with the help of Wes Hoolahan, he might just go on to form a deadly partnership and spell doom for the Liverpool FC defence.
Jurgen Klopp and his injury issues
Liverpool FC have been suffering from far too many injuries of late, and that might just come down to the high-octane ‘heavy metal’ brand of football that manager Jurgen Klopp demands from his players. The problem however is that now all players are suited to that kind of a strenuous game — especially in the English season, that already takes so much of a toll on the body.
Mamadou Sakho is fully fit for the match, and should take part, but his fellow centrebacks Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel are both still ruled out of the game due to hamstring injuries. Klopp is likely to pack the midfield by playing the 4-3-3 formation, with Firmino operating as a false No.9, which gives the Reds more manpower in the midfield. It would be interesting to see how Norwich cope up against aside that has clear domination over their midfield.
Steven Naismith vs. Kolo Toure
There’s absolutely no doubt what this former Everton forward will be up to. He may not be wearing the Toffees’ jersey anymore, but he would certainly be looking to get the better of the old foes, as he tries to get his new team out of the clutches of relegation. The likes of Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho could have been difficult time dealing with the duo of Hoolahan and Naismith up front. While Naispith has the pace and the finishing ability up front, Hoolahan will be playing a little behind him, trying to set the Scottishman through on goal.
Nathan Redmond vs. Nathaniel Clyne
It is a battle of two young Englishmen, who are tipped to be the future of the country’s national team. While Nathaniel Clyne made the move from Southampton to Liverpool, Redmond had moved to Norwich from Birmingham. The 21-year-old is a lethal winger, and would be constantly drive at Clyne, in order to get the better of him. However, Clyne also has enough pace, to keep up with Redmond. It is the tickery that the Liverpool FC man has to watch out for.
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Sebastian Bassong vs. Roberto Firmino
Roberto Firmino has been extremely inconsistent this season, and it seems that he is still not being able to properly form good partnerships with the midfielders, apart from the injured Philippe Coutinho. On his day however, Firmino has shown that he can rip apart the best defences in the world. He would of course often drop into midfield to help out the midfielders, and play both as a false No. 9 and a central striker. His duel with Norwich centrehalf Sebastian Bassong could be very interesting, as the latter needs to avoid being sucked out of position.
- Although Neil has set his side up with a more pragmatic approach to the game, they have enough skillful players in the form of Redmond, Hoolahan and Naismith to hurt the Liverpool FC back four.
- It is very difficult to dislodge a Norwich side that has already taken the lead. Neil’s pragmatic approach to the game has made sure of that.
- Although Neil has set up a pragmatic approach, he had made the change in mid season, which is perhaps why the Canaries have been a bit weak against highly creative players.
- The Norwich defence lacks pace, and could get caught on the counter from this fast Liverpool FC side.
- Klopp has shown a tendency of bringing Christian Benteke on in the second half. When the big Belgian does come on, Liverpool FC get an added dimension to their attack, with crosses and long balls being aimed at the big man.
- An important part of Klopp’s gegenpressing tactic is that Liverpool FC needs to steal the ball as quickly as possible. The Reds have mastered the art of sealing the ball very well, and are a constant threat on the counter.
- As we saw in their last match against Manchester United, finishing is a huge issue for Liverpool FC. They would certainly need to improve that aspect of their game, if they want to make it to Europe next season.
- Klopp has never really been able to play a set back four due to injuries, and perhaps this is why Liverpool FC is a bit weak in that area. One thing that they have been especially bad at, is laying the offside trap.
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