Liverpool came into Carrow Road on Sunday afternoon hoping to continue their impressive unbeaten run of ten games in 2014 and boy did they live up to expectations! The home side would have been believed to show a bit more enthusiasm given Neil Adams’ team are hovering above the dreaded relegation zone.
Raheem Sterling opened the scoring within four minutes and then Norwich’s nemesis Luis Suarez inevitably scored following Sterling’s peach of a ball across the penalty box. Gary Hooper then gave the home side a hope with a simple tap in following Simon Mignolet’s error but Sterling then restored the two goal lead. Robert Snodgrass then put the Canaries with touching distance with a great header but Liverpool held on to return from Carrow Road with full points in their kitty.
The pre match talk was dominated on how Liverpool would name its starting eleven given injury concerns to Daniel Sturridge and with the suspended Jordan Henderson, manager Brendan Rodgers opted for a flat 4-3-3 setup. Steven Gerrard would play in his quarter back role flanked by Lucas and Allen on either side. Sterling played in the centre with Coutinho on the left and Suarez drifting inside from wide right. And for the home side Gary Hooper played as the lone figure upfront.
Bright Liverpool start and Sterling’s dynamism:
Sterling gave Liverpool the lead with a thunderous strike within four minutes which went past John Ruddy before the latter could even react. One of Liverpool’s brilliant and flexible feature this season has been their ability to adjust and change formations quickly to suit their free flowing style.
It was Sterling who started at the heart (middle) of the bank of three up front as shown by the above snap. Norwich simply couldn’t cope with Liverpool’s passing and off the ball movement. The 19-year old then turned provider with a sumptuous ball across the penalty box and Luis Suarez, checked his run and getting past Micheal Turner’s shoulders nodded in a simple tap in.
The above action areas of Sterling (in the first half) shows how the teenager has been at the heart of Liverpool’s free flowing style this season. It augurs well for England and Roy Hodgson in particular who, now, should rubber stamp Sterling’s name in the starting eleven for The Three Lions’ first game against Italy in Brazil come this June.
Liverpool’s on and off the ball movement:
One huge feature of Liverpool’s astounding success this season has been their ability to maintain their shape throughout even when they are out of possession. Nowich tried to enforce the pace after the Reds took a two goal lead but Rodgers’ side soaked up the pressure time and again simply refusing to wilt under pressure. The following snap shows how admirably the Liverpool midfield hold their shape and with all possible triangles available a quick counter is on.
Even when the Reds are is possession; the plethora of attacking options sees them through. With the player on the ball see how there are a number of options to feed in order to launch a quick counter attack.
Also shown in the snap above the right full back has acres of pace to exploit in the final third.
Norwich threw the kitchen sink at Liverpool in the final twenty minutes with the Reds defense barring Martin Skrtel showing immense fragility. At the end though, the echoes around the Red half of Merseyside can grow louder. With the nervy win, Liverpool now put themselves in a commanding position by going five points clear at the top and in pole position to clinch their first Premier League title in 24 years.
Stats via squawka
Watch the highlights here: