Liverpool lived to rue their misses last night as Norwich came away from Anfield with a draw, after a game in which the reds had dominated.
Martin Skrtel and Luis Suarez rattled the woodwork in a period of heavy pressure on the Norwich goal, before Craig Bellamy opened the scoring in first half injury time. Liverpool had the upper hand and before the break Norwich had struggled to find their footing in the game, a familiar wastefulness and failure to capitalize on possession and chances however, ensured that Liverpool didn’t put the game to bed.
A similar pattern emerged in the second half, a cavalcade of Liverpool opportunities went begging, and thanks to some fine work from Norwich 'keeper John Ruddy, the score remained 1-0... until Paul Lambert introduced Grant Holt on the hour mark. Less than three minutes after coming on, Holt capitalized on an uncharacteristic lapse in concentration from Liverpool’s Pepe Reina and buried a header into the Liverpool net to mark his 100th appearance for the canaries.
This immediately brought Norwich back into the game, the wind was out of Liverpool’s sails, and for a fifteen minute period the reds were pegged back in their own half. More chances came late on, sublime skill from Luis Suarez and the introduction of Andy Carroll provided Liverpool with opportunities in front of goal, all of which were duly squandered.
The clock ticked to 94 minutes, and an all too familiar feeling of regret sank in at Anfield, Liverpool had failed to put a game to bed yet again, a characteristic which has cost them dear in recent years.
A cavalcade of Liverpool opportunities went begging, and thanks to some fine work from Norwich 'keeper John Ruddy the score remained 1-0... until Paul Lambert introduced Grant Holt on the hour mark...
Under Rafa Benitez, a succession of scrappy home draws had ensured Liverpool fell short of the league title by just a handful of points, and under Roy Hodgson… well, under Roy Hodgson Norwich could have easily left Anfield with three points last night.
There were positives to take from the game, but sadly they were vastly outweighed by the negatives. Luis Suarez’s guile and desire to create chances was a joy to watch at times, but a distinct lack of midfield organization left the Uruguayan frustrated and isolated. The absence of Lucas Leiva through suspension meant that Liverpool’s midfield was stretched, Charlie Adam and Steven Gerrard seeming to occupy worryingly similar roles for vast periods of the game, Gerrard dropping deep in the second half only exacerbated things, ensuring that the skipper couldn’t pull Liverpool out of the mire, as he has done so many times before.
Craig Bellamy looked lively on his return to Anfield proper, and Dirk Kuyt was his usual energetic self, but without a real sense of belief and determination in the midfield, their support of Liverpool’s attack seemed to be wasted, far too many crosses going astray and many forward surges being broken down by Norwich on the edge of the box.
Credit must go to Norwich of course, Paul Lambert’s introduction of Holt was inspired and John Ruddy put in a matchwinning performance between the sticks, but it must be said that Liverpool, had they buried their chances early on, could have easily had the points in the bag within the first half.
So, what does it mean for Liverpool? Well, it’s not the end of the world, there’s a long way to go, and it may have been 'just one of those days'.. or any other clichés you’d like to throw at it. However, it does seem that the red’s inability to kill a game off remains, and it will be an issue which holds them back until it is amended.
Click here for more stories in Football and Sport
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook