Both Norwich City and Liverpool return to Premier League action this Saturday after enjoying the first winter break in the league’s history.
The Canaries welcome champions-elect, Liverpool to Carrow Road in the late kick-off at 5.30 pm knowing that they are fast running out of games to pull off Daniel Farke’s little miracle and the visitors meanwhile, are in imperious form.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have won 24 out of their 25 games so far, drawing the other against Manchester United, and are so far ahead in the ”title race” that a first top-flight title in thirty years looks a certainty but is the result of Saturday’s game a foregone conclusion?
Most, of course, would say “Yes it is” and I’m fully expecting one-word answers to that effect in the comments box!
Up and down the land, Fantasy Football managers will have triple captained Mo Salah, bookies will have given City some ridiculously long odds and the pundits will just write us off in their weekly tabloid columns. The return to training this week of Sadio Mane is also a worrying development.
As a Norwich fan though, I can’t help being slightly optimistic. “Slightly” is about all I can manage but I never go into a game of football thinking that we’ll lose before we even kick-off. Can you imagine how the side would do if the players and staff went into a game with that attitude?
Clearly, the Canaries didn’t have a defeatist attitude when they played Manchester City earlier in the season, so why should they now?
I relish the chance to watch my side take on the best teams in England, it’s one of the best things about playing in the Premier League, even though in this day and age we’re more often than not going to get beaten but let’s look at the positives.
Firstly, Norwich are at home and that has been where we have done so well at times this season. If the Canary Nation can summon up the sort of support that they produced against Man City then the players will gain an extra yard. Emi Buendia will be well rested and there’s no doubt that having three fit central defenders is also a bonus and I think I’m right in saying that it’s only the second time this season that Farke will have that option.
Speaking of defenders, now that Ben Godfrey is available again I wonder if Farke has thought about playing all three centre backs and changing formation to a 3-5-2 or variant of?
I read somewhere, it might have been in The Athletic, that Daniel Farke intended to play with three centre backs this season but cruelly, he’s never been given the opportunity due to a seemingly never-ending series of injuries to his key men there. Now that this run of bad luck has finally come to an end though, I just wonder if he might consider it here?
After all, City are facing the best team in the league with mighty strength at both ends of the field and a tough, excellent midfield to boot. City were undone at Anfield by set-pieces and that has been a familiar theme throughout this term so why not add an extra body in there to combat Van Dijk and co?
Byram/Lewis and Aarons could provide the width and pace and a full return for Emi Buendia should be on the cards. It’s a tough call for the Head Coach to make and obviously, the easy decision would be to stick with what the squad have been playing for the last season and a half, the old 4-2-3-1 that can morph into a 4-3-3 when on the attack.
That would be the easy thing to do.
If it was me, I just think that maybe we need to try something different to catch the Red juggernaut out, to mess with them a little, to make Klopp change to deal with what we are doing for a change.
Everyone expects Norwich to be run over by that juggernaut and maybe we will be but the last couple of years have taught me that this squad are not short of balls. Everyone expected Man City to score seven and yes, they got a couple but we still won the game. Liverpool are on an incredible run of form but, if ever there was an along come Norwich moment, then this is it.