Three points, a hatful of goals and the clearest indication yet that the players are fully assimilated to Brendan Rodgers’ system – all in all this was a great win for Liverpool, who finally got that league monkey off their back in emphatic fashion with a 5-2 win away at Norwich. Rodgers continued to put his faith in the younger players, handing first league starts to Andre Wisdom and Suso whilst Raheem Sterling kept his place in the side, and this was their youngest starting line-up in the league since December 2003.
The Reds started like a house on fire and, after taking the lead in the second minute, they never looked like losing this one. This was a superb team performance but the headlines were only ever going to be about one man: Luis Suarez, who must be wishing he could play in Norfolk every week. The hat-trick he scored in the corresponding fixture last season was arguably the greatest one ever scored in Premier League history, and this one wasn’t far off; three finishes of the highest quality, and when he’s on form like this he’s simply unplayable – he makes nutmegging an art form.
Much like last season’s game, he scored the three most difficult chances he had. His profligacy in front of goal is well documented, but he’s now on 6 goals for the season, and is well on course for his most prolific season in a red shirt. The thirty seconds leading up to his second goal were a microcosm of Luis Suarez. He was through one-on-one but put it horribly wide, and then from the subsequent goal kick he wins possession the ball back, nutmegs a defender and then bends the ball around John Ruddy. Just a sensational goal from out of nowhere; he makes the impossible look possible, but then often makes the simple things look incredibly difficult.
The hat-trick he scored in the corresponding fixture last season was arguably the greatest one ever scored in Premier League history, and this one wasn’t far off; three finishes of the highest quality, and when he’s on form like this he’s simply unplayable – he makes nutmegging an art form.
He was also denied as clear a penalty as you’ll ever see when Leon Barnett bundled him over in the box and dropped an elbow drop on him, seemingly in homage to ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. Suarez did appear to have made a conscious effort to not complain to the referee about getting decisions his way, and when you couple that with the comments made by Rodgers, Gerrard and Johnson this week about us – and particularly Suarez – not getting decisions in our favour, it will be interesting to see if that bucks the trend or not in the coming weeks.
The scoreline flattered Norwich, and both of their goals were the result of yet more defensive errors from Liverpool, with Pepe Reina and Martin Skrtel adding to their respective recent catalogue of errors: Reina spilt a shot in to the path of Stephen Morison, who was left with a simple finish; Martin Skrtel, whose form has not been up to his usual standards this season, misjudged a through ball to Grant Holt, who went through unopposed on goal and finished emphatically. The Reds are not going to score five every game, and practically every goal they’ve conceded this season has been the direct result of a mistake leading to an easy chance for the opposition. Such constant errors must be eradicated if they are going to put a string of wins together.
Liverpool had two thirds of the possession and made 734 passes against Norwich, which is the most they’ve ever made in Premier League history. The midfield triumvirate of Allen, Gerrard and Sahin never really had to break out of first gear against the Canaries, and once Lucas Leiva returns from injury and resumes his place as the deepest of the three midfielders, Liverpool’s ability to dominate the game and, in theory, their ability to create chances more regularly will only get better.
He was also denied as clear a penalty as you’ll ever see when Leon Barnett bundled him over in the box and dropped an elbow drop on him, seemingly in homage to ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage.
Just as too much should not have been made to their indifferent start to the season given the tough run of fixtures and the fact that it was so early in to Rodgers’ reign, expectations should be tempered after two consecutive – albeit impressive - wins. Norwich look a shell of the side they were last season and on this form are dead certs for the drop. However, Rodgers appears to have found the right balance of bleeding in youngsters whilst keeping the side competitive, and keeping his star players fresh for league games.
It is a perfect blend of old and new, and it is clear that this system is reliant on the contributions of the entire team and is not built around a few key players. Up next is a home game to Udinese – realising that these impressive victories have all come away from Anfield is even more encouraging - and another chance for the precocious phenomenon’s to prove their quality against a very capable side. There is a burgeoning sense of excitement with every game that’s played, and hopefully even Rodgers’ most ardent critics will give him the chance to build on this recent good form and take the club forward.
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