If there were ever a match I felt I could write about with more knowledge than most it would be the one that we have at the weekend. Liverpool will welcome Norwich City to Anfield, we’ will know doubt hope that we can eradicate the memories of the identical fixture from last season. I was at the game last year, if you can’t remember or have tried extremely hard to forget it, I’ll refresh your memory. Anfield was oddly quiet, nervous, it had a feel of a ground that knew it wasn’t going to go their way. I’ve made it sound like Liverpool got a hiding, when in reality they inflicted one upon Norwich without taking all 3 points. Craig Bellamy finished calmly in the first half against his old club and at that moment it was looking like a routine home win, but as was the story of our season last term, chance after chance, save after save, poor finish after poor finish, merged into what became a frustrating and all too familiar scene at Anfield last year. Chances weren’t taken and a Grant Holt superman like header in front of the Kop combined with some fine saves from Norwich goalkeeper, John Ruddy saw Norwich take a point away from Anfield, and they weren’t the only ones last year.
I live in Norfolk and have connections to Norwich which mean it’s most certainly a team I have not only a keen interest in but will to win in every game, EXCEPT of course when they face Liverpool. When the Reds played at Carrow Road in late September it was a must win for the Reds, after a tough run of games against Arsenal, United and City it was a game Brendan Rodgers would have been desperate to get a result, with the hope that it would set up a spell of consistency. 2 minutes in and Luis Suarez scored and little over 90 minutes later Liverpool had scored 5 goals away from home in a 5-2 win, Luis Suarez got the match ball after a 2nd consecutive hat trick against Norwich.
You may look at this fixture and think it’s a routine win for Liverpool at home against inferior opposition, but that simply won’t be the case. (I’ve no doubt made sure we win 5-0 with that line, get those bets on) Since the 5-2 win, Norwich went on a run of 9 games without defeat and were beaten only by Barcelona in Europe’s top leagues in the form table at that time. They held firm to deny Manchester United and Arsenal at home and got a valuable point away at an inform Everton. Chris Hughton has got them organised, the main difference between Paul Lambert’s Norwich and the current side is their ability to frustrate a team. Last season they got 2 clean sheets all year, the first of which came this weekend last year against Chelsea. This year they’ve already clocked 6, including those wins against Arsenal and Manchester United. That being said, Norwich’s Christmas period form has been rocky, defeats to superior opposition has seen the wind kicked out of them in recent weeks. a win against Peterborough in the cup and a point against Newcastle have seen them stop the rot but will feel there’s still room for improvement.
Hurt and be Hurt
Norwich have been deadly from set pieces this year and with Robert Snodgrass’ arrival in the summer from Leeds, they’ve added quality to an area in which they were already capable. At the weekend against United we had Martin Skrtel in the wall at set pieces that were clearly going to be crossed in, if you fail to mark men well in the middle, Norwich will score. Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel MUST pick up Grant Holt at every set piece. Fail to prepare against Norwich’s set plays and prepare to fail. The way to beat Norwich from what I’ve seen is to really get at their back four, despite Sebastian Bassong being brilliant for them this year, they’re still vulnerable to something we’ve just armed ourselves with. Pace. No team likes to deal with pace but if Liverpool can stretch the game out wide and punish the spaces between centre and full back it’ll be a winning formula. Norwich are comfortable on the ball, get in their faces, no team likes that either but it’s the one thing I’d love to see done more regularly by our boys. In the first half against United we gave them far too much respect, get in their faces, force them into mistakes, we did that after the arrival of Sturridge and got our rewards.
The midfield battle
I’ve no idea which trio Rodgers will go with, of course there’s actually a chance he’ll play 4 across the middle with Sturridge and Suarez up top, but I don’t expect him to go with that. Norwich will try to flood the middle with 1/2 players holding and Pilkington and Snodgrass on either wing to supply and support Grant Holt. Wes Hoolahan, Norwich’s most creative attacking force will sit behind Holt but drop into midfield when needs be. To counter their set up I think a Lucas Gerrard duo with Suarez at the top of the triangle will be the most effective way of putting pressure on Norwich. This means I believe Sturridge will make his home league debut but not see out the full 90 minutes, so Henderson would replace him and sit behind Suarez. Guess work at it’s very best.
The difference will be….
Luis Suarez, I think he could make in 3 hat tricks on the bounce. His ability to get in between the lines and create his own space will be vital, players remember the games they play well in and Luis Suarez’ memories of Norwich will be good, 6 goals in 2 games, he’s ready to enjoy the game and a Luis Suarez enjoying a game of football is a terrifying thought for anyone.
What do you think? What will be the difference for Liverpool to win?
Remember the Name: is a new and unique 10 part series of blogs aimed at ‘remembering’ some of the big names that have graced the fields of Liverpool over the past 20 years, and in doing so illustrate the contributions they made to the mighty club. These players may have moved on, but their names haven’t – some are heroes, some are villains and some are a mixture of both.
First up, is former Captain Sami Hyypia.
In 1999, Liverpool signed then-relatively unknown Finnish defender Sami Hyypia from Willem II. This followed a stellar season which saw Sami captain the Dutch side to Champions League football and in the process become the clubs Player of the Year. The 2.6 million pound fee paid for him would soon turn out to be a true bargain.
Ron Yeats looking back on the deal “one of the best bits of business we’ve done over the years…a steal – a bargain”
Not expected to take the Kop by storm, Sami burst on to the scene, forming a solid centre-back partnership with Stephane Henchoz in his debut season. With full-time captain Jamie Redknapp out with a serious injury, Sami shared the captaincy with Robbie Fowler. The duo led Gerard Houllier’s men to historic Cup treble – picking up the League Cup, FA Cup and Uefa Cup. His performances that season also earned him his third consecutive FAF Finnish Footballer of the Year award (he would go on to grab 9 in total)
Sami and Robbie lead the club to glory
With both Fowler and Redknapp moving on the next season, Hyypia was promoted to first-choice captain. Although he was an obvious leader of men the Fin seemed weighed down by the armband and in 2003 was replaced by current skipper Steven Gerrard – a ‘demotion’ which would rejuvenate Sami’s performances in the future that lay ahead.
2004 saw the arrival of one Rafa Benitez and with him a change of tactics that saw Jamie Carragher join Hyypia at centre-back, in the process forming one of the most intimidating pairings in Liverpool history. Built around this partnership, the club went on to win the Champions League in what many consider the greatest match of all-time.
The 2005-2006 season saw Sami claim a winner’s medal in another amazing final as Liverpool beat West Ham for the FA Cup. This achievement was to be topped the next season as Sami broker into the top 25 in all-time appearances for Liverpool.
Come 2008, Sami was entering his 10th season with the club – a season which would see him make 20th on the appearance list, ultimately ending 10 caps ahead of Ron Yeats. At the end of the season, and at the end of his contract, Hyypia departed Anfield for the fields of Leverkusen. His last game for the club would come in the form of an 83rd substitution against Tottenham. He replaced Steven Gerrard, who personally pulled the armband on for Sami. At the sound of the final whistle, Sami was held aloft by the Liverpool players and received an emotional ovation from the crowd – such was his influence at the club. He departed with his name held in the highest regard, illustrated by being voted number 38 in Liverpool’s 100 Players who shook the Kop.
An ovation for Sami Hyypia
CHARACTER AND EUROPE
At the end of the Liverpool number 4’s journey with the club, former Liverpool striker Fernando Torres had this to say about not only the player he was, but the person he was:
“Sami may not have played every week but he was a 10 out of 10 guy on and off the pitch, bringing calm to the ground and having everyone’s admiration’.
When a TV cameraman recommended Sami to the Liverpool staff no one would have imagined the service he had just done the club. The 6’4 Fin would go on to be the picture of discipline and dependability. In 10 years Sami only got one red card and at one stage had gone 87 matches without a booking. But he wasn’t just good at marshaling the defence and keeping it clean, he was a constant goal threat from set pieces. The big man’s first goal came against North-West rivals Manchester United, but his best, and most important goal would be his left-footed strike against Juventus in the Champions League Quarter Final which would set us on our way to Istanbul. Sami happened to play in every single minute of every game of the Istanbul campaign – in fact, every minute of 57 consecutive European matches.
But just how important was Sami to Liverpool? The word ‘Legend’ is thrown around and is often undeserved, but, after 464 games and 35 goals for the club it is no surprise that many consider him to be just that and after 2 FA Cups, League Cups, Super Cups and one of each of the European trophies, it is rightly deserved. To end, Jamie Carragher once said:
“Sami will go down in history alongside Ron Yeats, Alan Hansen and Emlyn Hughes” – A fitting spot amongst legends.
- An encouraging effort was not enough to prevent Liverpool slipping to a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford last weekend. New signing Daniel Sturridge made an almost immediate impact after coming on as a substitute, and despite his goal seeming to galvanise Brendan Rogers’ side in the latter part of the match, it was not enough to snatch a draw.
- Liverpool will as ever be looking to the talismanic Luis Suarez to propel towards three points this weekend against Norwich. The dynamic Uruguayan may be slightly wasteful with some of his chances in front of goal, boasting a 59% accuracy rate from 114 attempted shots, but it’s a case of law of averages for him given that he’s scored once from every 7.6 of those attempts on goal. Look to him to add to his total this weekend, he’s 4/9 to score at anytime at 888sport.com.
- Suarez remains one of the main men in the Premier League though, placing second only to Robin van Persie in terms of his statistical affect on games this season. He’s notched up a combined 20 goals and assists this season.
- Glen Johnson remains the top defender in the Liverpool squad according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index this week. The England full-back has won 40 tackles this season, giving him a solid 71.4% success rate.
- His young teammate Andre Wisdom is obviously learning a few things from Johnson and has been justifying the new long-term deal he signed recently by also establishing a 71.4% success rate from 21 attempted challenges.
- Fellow young tyro Raheem Sterling has also been making quite the impression in his debut season in the Premier League. The pacy winger sits third on the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for dribbles with 30, as well as whipping in 34 crosses and notching 4 assists. Sterling is a industry best 11/4 at 888sport.com to score at anytime against Norwich.
- A game of few chances resulted in a 0-0 stalemate between Norwich and Newcastle at Carrow Road last week. While the draw stemmed a run of defeats for Norwich, it was a performance they will be looking to improve upon come this weekend.
- Robert Snodgrass continues to carve out opportunities for his teammates, delivering 83 crosses, yet has only managed to register 4 assists, something he will be looking to improve upon this weekend.
- Bradley Johnson will need to once again be careful against a Liverpool midfield starting to play some expressive football in the middle of the park. The Norwich hardman remains near the top of the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for fouls committed, his 39 placing him 4th.
- Despite impressing many this season largely through his defensive efforts, Sebastian Bassong has certainly found time to contribute at the other end of the park. He has an excellent shot-to-goal ratio of 3.6 from 11 attempts so far this season.
- The Frenchman knows where his priorities lie though. No Norwich player has assisted more defensively that him this season according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, with 156 positive defensive contributions.
- Grant Holt has been struggling a little to find his best form this season, the big frontman only mustering a 54% accuracy rate from 28 attempts on goal. That give him a shot on target only once every 101 minutes, something he will be keen to boost in the latter half of the season.
Liverpool take on Norwich City at Anfield on Saturday, with the reds looking to bounce back from last week’s defeat at Man Utd. As we countdown to kickoff the lads are joined by Anfield Wrap regulars Nick O’Prey and Sean Rogers to discuss…
– Looking at the Fixtures Coming Up, Is this a “Must Win”?
– Can Sturridge Fire The Crowd Up?
– Why Games Like This Are Important For Suarez
– Are People Too Harsh on Joe Allen?
– Could We See Liverpool 2.0?
– Lineup Prediction
– Do Sturridge and Borini Need Minutes?
– Do We Really NEED a DM at Home?
– VOTE FOR US TO WIN A SHORTY AWARD! http://shortyawards.com/TheRedmenTV?category=webshow
– Score Predictions