MATCH PREVIEW: Norwich Vs Liverpool 29 Sept 3.00pm

Posted by BabuYagu on September 19, 2012, 07:32:14 AM

I have many happy memories of games against Norwich City. They are just one of those sides that Liverpool seem to always do well against. In fact Norwich have only managed to secure 1 point against us from the last 6 meetings so we can go into this game with a degree of confidence. Suarez certainly should after his delightful hattrick in the same fixture last season.

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I spent a lot of my early adult years living in Ipswich Town, home of their biggest rivals. The games between those two are a classic rivalry and I personally think it´s a shame that they are no longer competing against each other. Both sides are really struggling of late though and if Ipswich can turn it around, I wouldn´t rule out them squaring up once more in the Championship next season.

Norwich don´t seem to have fully recovered from the 5-0 pasting by Fulham on opening day. Last season Holt, Morison and Pilkington took the Premier League by storm scoring 32 Premier League goals between them. This season the trio haven´t looked much of a threat resulting in all 3 of them being benched at one point or another. Their creative force last season was Wes Hoolahan with 7 assists on top of his 4 goals. He has also suffered a shaky start to this one playing just 103 minutes so far however, looked dangerous in glimpses against Newcastle last outing.

The one player who really has stood out for them this season has been Robert Snodgrass and I expect him to be the main threat to our goal for this one. He is deceptively quick, loves arriving late in the box, very combative in midfield and packs a fierce shot. Like a lot of modern day wingers, he tends to switch sides also either driving down the left or cutting in from the right. Whoever gets the nod to replace Kelly will have their hands full with him.

At the other end, John Ruddy has had a good start to the season and has made several top notch saves often keeping Norwich in games. Despite Barnett and Bassong replacing Bennett and Ward in the heart of their defence, they still look very shaky at the back and with our passing and movement, I do feel we can open them up.

With almost double the amount of completed passes (2,234 v 1,306) and a vastly superior accuracy (86% v 74.2%) expect Liverpool to control the ball for this one. Whilst Norwich liked to knock it about under Lambert, this season they appear to favour hitting their CF early (especially Holt when he is in the side) and from there holding it up and attacking down the flanks and getting balls into the box. This has perhaps been our achilles heel this season so far, being caught on the counter (West Brom, Manchester City, Arsenal) and from attacks down our sides (West Brom again, Sunderland, Manchester United) so Norwich provide a difficult matchup for us at this moment in time.

Enough of the threats that Norwich may pose.... what about us? Well we´re all grown pretty accustomed to Rodgers formation by now, that won´t change too much. He also seemed to have decided upon a favoured XI in the league for the past few games but the injuries to Kelly, Borini and Agger as well as Shelvey´s suspension means there will be changes to the side. There will be a lot of calls to replace Kelly with Wisdom or Flanaghan. Others will suggest switching Johnson back to the right and giving Robinson his chance to nail down a first team place. Maybe we should continue the Downing experiment at left back? Personally I think Jose Enrique, despite having a shocker against Young Boys, is the best left back at the club. He has been capped at every level for Spain up to the senior side so he has played the same sort of football Rodgers wants from him. So I am hoping he has it in him, it just needs to be brought out of him and dusted off once more. I also would like to see Johnson back on the right hand side as while he is a threat down the left I feel he is twice as dangerous down the right and still packs a punch with his left foot cutting in as Gomel discovered recently as well as Chelsea last season.

Simply put, Coates has to replace Agger. I love Jamie Carragher and he is rightly regarded a legend but his legs have gone. Every time he plays now you can see the decline even more. Coates on the other hand has the ability to step up now as he did against Manchester City. Also importantly, he is a real threat at corners. Between him and Skrtel you feel any good ball into the box can cause the opposition real problems. It would be rare for us as we generally score very few from corners but I feel Coates will become on of those goal scoring defenders once he becomes a mainstay in the side.

With Suso impressing on his debut against Man Utd; Sahin struggling for match fitness and the physical requirements the system requires of him and Henderson seemingly out of favour for a midfield birth, there is some real competition for that 3rd midfield berth. Hopefully Henderson´s performance v Gomel showed Rodgers what he can do in midfield as I think we have a great player on our hands who just needs to gain confidence playing centrally instead of being pushed around to plug gaps in the side out wide. There is a strong case to give Sahin a go also in the most advanced role with the least defensive responsibility.

As for Borini, we probably need to protect him a little here as if he picks up a serious injury we have only Suarez & a bunch of teenagers capable of playing a central forward role. So I would put Assaidi in the side and see what he gives us. If he runs out of steam/ideas we can always bring on Suso or Downing.

As mentioned before, expect us to dominate them with the ball with them attempting to hurt us on the counter. On Sunday we seemed to have improved our containment for when we loose the ball and were never really caught on the counter bar the Valencia penalty which I am putting down as just bad luck as Agger miscontrolled a pass then 2 Liverpool players took each other out. Regardless, I seen massive improvement in our pressing game and our recovery to loosing the ball and think Norwich will struggle to fashion chances against us. I do see them struggling defensively against us and can see us getting freekicks around the box or maybe even a penalty off Bassong who dives in too much for a center half.

So my questions to all of you are:-

1. Who gets the nod to replace Shelvey and Agger?
2. What do we do about our full back problem without Kelly?
3. Do we go with youth on both wings, test Assaidi out in English football or give Downing another chance?

I ask you all now to avoid posting up a stream of formations and instead debate the four key changes mentioned above. The official RAWK Preview topics are heavily modded to keep them tidy and to maintain a flowing conversation and formations with little or no explanation will be deleted without mercy. Thank you.

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