Liverpool arrive at Carrow Road today intent on extending their lead at the top of the premiership after a week where Sunderland struck back, and caused havoc in the chasing pack. The Reds can take full advantage of the misery heaped on second and third placed Chelsea and Manchester City.
With City dropping two points at home to the Black Cats in the midweek 2-2 draw, effectively shooting themselves in the foot and Chelsea succumbing yesterday to a 1-2 home defeat to a Sunderland with Liverpool “plant” Fabio Borini scoring his second league goal since February to sink his old club, Liverpool now have the perfect chance to take another huge step forward in this seasons campaign. One small step for the Reds and one giant leap spanning the last 24 years. Should Brendan Rodgers’ men come out on top, they will rest firmly in the Premier League driving seat with a five-point gap. A massive, massive psychological boost ahead of next week’s home fixture against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side. If one were ever needed right now.
Daniel Sturridge remains a doubt so it’s likely that Philippe Coutinho will take his place in an attacking front three, along with Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez, should Rodgers choose that approach which looks likely in view of the side having just one fit main striker. Iago Aspas seems to be a perennial part of the Paddock furniture so I don’t see him starting. Still, you never know. Jordan Henderson’s suspension is the teams biggest blow in my opinion. I don’t believe the stat that shows the last time Henderson didn’t play the side lost is a pure coincidence. His work rate has been phenomenal for the team this season. On recent evidence, it’s likely that Joe Allen may start along side Lucas Leiva as the central defensive pairing in front of ‘Anchor’ Steven Gerrard. No, I said Anchor not… Anyway. I’d be shocked if Victor Moses was handed a start today. His role as “time-runner-downer” at 90 minutes is secure for the moment. Hopefully, Mamadou Sakho should retain his place from last week because he played really well against Manchester City. A much better performance than his last one against the same opponents.
With the other results going completely in Liverpool’s favour this is their chance to capitalise. This situation has repeated itself on a few occasions this season, most notably when Brendan Rodgers’ side visited Fulham. That week in February, both Chelsea and City drew. When Liverpool faced the Cottagers at their West London ground later that week it was clear the side was a little nervous but managed to scrape a 2-3 victory. I believe that was a pivotal game for the Reds. Not only did it move the team to within striking distance of the top of the table, I think it showed them that they no longer need to fear stumbling against smaller sides. The “hoodoo” teams that have been Liverpool’s undoing in so many a previous campaign. A mental barrier was broken down and the team has not looked back since. They found belief, took it and ran with it.
This is the resolve I’m hoping they take into this game today. This “edge” they’ve had in these situations that have so blighted those around them. They’ve learned. To handle the pressure. To grind out results. To hang on in there. To believe. To be Champions? Well, we’ll know by this afternoon.
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