Liverpool will continue their march towards the Premier League title when they take on Norwich City at Carrow Road on Saturday.
The two-week long Gameweek 26 of the 2019-20 Premier League season resumes this weekend, as the remaining 12 teams return from their winter breaks. Table toppers Liverpool will be in action on Saturday, when they travel to Carrow Road to lock horns with rock-bottom Norwich City.
There has been absolutely no stopping Liverpool in the 2019-20 season. Till date in 25 games so far, the Reds have dropped a mere two points, collecting a mind-boggling 73 of the 75 points on offer in league football. Last time out in top-flight action, Jurgen Klopp & co. were comfortable victors at Southampton and a first Premier League title coronation is now but a formality.
Norwich City, on the other hand, have been the bottom feeders in the Premier League this season. While the Canaries have impressed with their eye-catching brand of football, a suspect defence has been the catalyst of a struggle of a campaign. Relegation beckons Daniel Farke’s men now, unless they dramatically swing their form around in the coming months.
The corresponding fixture, played at Anfield on the opening day of the season, saw Liverpool cruise to a 4-1 win, with Teemu Pukki scoring the consolation goal for Norwich. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Daniel Farke barely has any injury concerns hampering his preparations for the visit of Liverpool. On Saturday, the Norwich City boss will be without just one first-team player, with Timm Klose nursing a knee injury.
The good news, though, is that Ben Godfrey is set to return to the starting lineup after serving out a three-match ban. Godfrey will slot into the heart of the Norwich defence, with Christoph Zimmermann being his partner. Max Aarons and Sam Byram pick themselves as the full-back pairing, while Tim Krul is the obvious choice in goal.
In another piece of good news, Emiliano Buendia is expected to start after being named on the bench in the goalless draw against Newcastle United. Buendia should start on the right side of the Norwich attack, with Todd Cantwell a certain starter on the opposite flank.
January signing Ondrej Duda will be deployed in the advanced midfield role, where he will have the freedom to roam and create overloads in the final third. Behind Duda, Kenny McLean and Alexander Tettey will partner up in the midfield double pivot, while top scorer Teemu Pukki will lead the line against Liverpool.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann, Godfrey, Byram; Tettey, McLean; Buendia, Duda, Cantwell; Pukki
Much like his counterpart in the Norwich dugout, Jurgen Klopp barely has any fitness issues to contend with ahead of the trip to Carrow Road. On Saturday, the Liverpool manager will be without just two first-team players; Xherdan Shaqiri continues his recovery trail from a calf injury while Nathaniel Clyne is a long-term absentee.
Sadio Mane has shrugged off the minor hamstring injury he sustained against Wolves a few weeks ago and is expected to be fit enough to start. James Milner has recovered his own hamstring complaint as well and the veteran midfielder should be a part of the matchday squad.
Mane should ideally return to the left side of the three-pronged attack, with Mohamed Salah being deployed on the right. Roberto Firmino will reprise the False Nine role he has made his own in recent years at Liverpool, looking to drop deep and create space for Mane and Salah to cut in.
A strong midfield unit is expected to be formed, with Fabinho sitting at the base, having finally had the chance to regain sharpness. Fabinho’s presence in the team means Jordan Henderson will once again have the freedom to charge up the field more, like he did against Southampton. Georginio Wijnaldum will be the workhorse in the middle of the park.
At the back, the first-choice quartet of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson will start, giving Liverpool a solid base to build a strong cumulative performance on. Finally, Alisson will take his customary place between the sticks.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane
- After winning two of their first four Premier League meetings with Liverpool (D1 L1), Norwich City are now winless in their last 13 against them in the top-flight (D2 L11).
- Of the 359 fixtures to have been played more than 10 times in the Premier League, Norwich vs Liverpool has the highest goals-per-game average (68 goals in 17 games, 4 per game).
- Liverpool have won 33 of their last 34 Premier League games, winning each of the last 16 in a row, and keeping a clean sheet in nine of their last 10. The Reds have won as many points in 2020 as Norwich have all season so far (18).
- Norwich have suffered 11 defeats in their last 12 Premier League games against the team starting the day in first place, only beating Manchester United in November 2012.
- Only two of Mohamed Salah’s 14 Premier League goals this season have been scored away from home.
Player to Watch
Time on the sidelines can be excruciating for players who are usually involved in the Golden Boot race. Such is the case with Sadio Mane as well, with the Senegalese seeing teammate Mohamed Salah move ahead of him in the race to win the Premier League Golden Boot this term.
Mane and Salah are known to have a healthy competition between themselves and he will now be keen on making a strong impact on his return from injury. Expect a fully charged Mane to take the field against Norwich on Saturday.
Norwich City 0-3 Liverpool
This is a proper David vs Goliath match-up. While Norwich have troubled the best of sides at times, Liverpool are a different beast altogether this season. The Canaries are unlikely to put up much of a fight, even though they will likely carry some threat on the counter.
Indeed, Liverpool are expected to retain much of the possession at Carrow Road, with a shoddy Norwich defence giving them the chance to have a look-in at Tim Krul’s goal with a lot of regularity.
Expect Liverpool to cruise to a straightforward win, taking another big step towards winning their first Premier League title. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-0 success for Jurgen Klopp & co.