There’s no doubt about it, we are in a truck load of trouble and the only way out is to do what seems impossible – to get some points from our last four matches, against Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal.
This weekend sees us welcome to Carrow Road, title chasing Liverpool with our old nemesis, Luis Suarez. The Uraguayan’s form this year has been awesome by anybody’s measure of that overused word.
This season he has scored 29 goals and 80 in total as a Liverpool player, with 11 of those being scored against Norwich City in just 5 appearances.
The word ‘nemesis’ is apt.
But how can you hope to beat a player like that, and if you can, also beat his in-form team mates?
Earlier in the season, City lost 7 nil at The Etihad. When Manchester City came to Carrow Road a repeat was all but expected in most sections of the sports press. However, as we all know it didn’t turn out like that with The Canaries holding out for a 0-0 draw which they could’ve even turned into a win had RvW had his shooting boots on. Speaking of which, does anyone know where they are?! He needs them back.
Attempting to beat Liverpool is something I’ve been considering this week and I thought I’d share my ideas for a team to beat Liverpool.
As we did against Manchester City at Carrow Road, I would play a flexible 4-5-1 formation. If we are in possession it can become 4-3-3 and without the ball we can move back to a packed midfield.
John Ruddy – First name on the team sheet – for a reason.
Martin Olsson – the left back is one of only two players in the squad that have genuine pace and have played a number of games this season. He was first choice for Chris Hughton at left back and would be my pick without question.
Joseph Yobo – he has been our best centre back this season and he only joined in January! That tells a story, I think. Great in the air, can anticipate attacking play and no-nonsense.
Ryan Bennett – I thought Neil Adams was brave to play Michael Turner last week after his lack of game time due to injury but for my money he is not mobile enough to deal with Liverpool’s front three. He’s done nothing wrong but this just isn’t his type of game.
Russell Martin – moves across to his more famailiar role and convinces me more there than Steven Whittaker.
Bradley Johnson – no-nonsense and can do a man marking job on Steven Gerrard when required. I’m not so bothered about his lack of passing ability, it’s his destructive ability we’ll need this weekend.
Leroy Fer – a massive boost is the return of the Dutchman. He has been a success story and although his form has been patchy, when he’s on it, he is a real handful. When Johnson wins the ball, he can give it to Leroy.
Nathan Redmond – pace to burn and the outlet we will need when under pressure. Pace terrifies defenders and Skrtel and Agger aren’t lightning quick. His quick feet could also help to tempt defenders into rash tackles.
Johnny howson – not shown the kind of form he produced prior to injury but still a big player for us. He would play in support of the lone striker, who I’ll get to in a minute.
Robert Snodgrass – despite being criticised by some early in the season, if it wasn’t for his goals and assists we would already be relegated. His ability from set pieces has seen him hit the bar in the last two games as well.
Gary Hooper – Johan Elmander is the only City striker to have scored this year! But Hooper always looks more likely to score than JE, Becchio or RvW. He is not as technically gifted as Ricky or as rounded a player but he still knows where the goal is.
So, how can we hope to get something from this game?
A lot of Liverpool’s success this season has come from the movement of their front three. They constantly switch places, which makes it hard for defenders to pick them up. Passes are provided by Steven Gerrard and in Suarez, they have a player that, on current form, is probably the third best player in the world, behind Messi and Ronaldo.
The way to stop Suarez is to work very hard and to deny him the ball. You need to defend tightly against him, but not too tight or he will win free kicks and from dead balls they are a big threat. If you give him too much space, he will destroy you, so it is a fine balance. Anticipation is the key and we need to stop him having the ball at his feet.
Manchester City did this very well last week and after a while, he started shamelessly throwing himself on the floor looking for free kicks – and should’ve been sent off. If that happens on Sunday, we’ll know that we’re doing something right.
The same goes for Sturridge (if he’s fit), Sterling and Coutinho, you need to deny them the ball at their feet. With Gerrard as the quarter-back we will have to concede a fair bit of possession to the visitors but in Redmond we have that pacey outlet that can make something happen on the counter.
Up front, Gary Hooper is our best goal threat and will need Howson to deliver decent balls to his feet in and around the box. From set pieces, we have our big central defenders as well as Fer and Johnson, who are both good in the air and in Snodgrass, we have a fine dead ball specialist.
The formation is one that Chris Hughton favoured and it is the same formation he used when frustrating Man City and almost nicking it at the end. It’s a formation that offers strength in both defence and attack but I just think that when Hughton used it he was always looking to negate the opposition first. Neil Adams seems to have a more attacking outlook and that may help us to pose a threat.
This won’t be easy in any way, shape or from – we all know that and Liverpool will be looking to march on toward a first title for 20 odd years. But there’s no reason why we can’t give them a game, at Carrow Road I fancy us against anyone and Man United, Chelsea, Man City and Spurs will testify to that.
The shadow of Hillsborough is cast long across Liverpool and it’s football team and clearly weighs heavily on Gerrard, who lost a cousin in the tragedy. I actually want them to win the title and think they are now favourites, however, not at Norwich’s expense.
If we lose, then so be it but as usual, we need to display some effort and pride to say we competed, rather than just rolling over. If you can’t get up for a game like this, as a player or fan, then there really is no hope for you.
So, that’s my team to beat Liverpool and the reasons why. What’s yours?