The Neil Adams era sadly began as the Chris Hughton era ended: In defeat.
Adams got the tactics spot on against Fulham, but try as they might Norwich just couldn’t get a breakthrough goal.
No change there, then.
It’s very much the same story we’ve seen time and time again this season. Hull away, Villa, Cardiff and Swansea at home, Newcastle away, Sunderland away…and that’s just the first half of the season. In those games and many others, Norwich have actually created several good chances and just haven’t stuck the ball in the net.
Sometimes it’s down to good goalkeeping (David Marshall in the Cardiff game, for example) or a case of rotten luck (Van Wolfswinkel’s volley was superbly saved by Fulham’s David Stockdale). But the key ingredient that seems to be missing is the lack of killer instinct.
The closest we’ve come to seeing a striker in any sort of form this season is Gary Hooper’s spell throughout the autumn months, after he netted 7 goals from September to December. What happened after that is anyone’s guess, but just when it looked as though our goalscoring troubles were sorted, no sooner had he been in the form of his life before he’d go totally off the boil, joining Ricky on the goalscorers waiting list.
And now we come to the infamous four-game spell which everyone’s been talking about all season. Just when we need goals the most, and we haven’t netted in three games.
I know there’s a bit of gloomy outlook right now, but there’s two ways we can look at things. On the one hand, we can admit defeat now and start focusing preparations on next season and trying to bounce back at the earliest possible opportunity (I don’t dare mention the R word just yet)
Or, if we want to stand shoulder to shoulder with the elite of the Premier League every season, what better way to preserve our status than by doing well against the big dogs themselves?
Stay up by getting points in any of these four games, and nobody can say we don’t deserve to stay in the division. We’ll have more than earned the right to make it a club record 4-Prem seasons on the bounce. Who knows; Prosperity here might just act as a springboard for the club to achieve bigger and better things in the future as opposed to constantly finding ourselves scrapping for survival.
It’ll be a massively tough ask, and with the kind of momentum Liverpool are on right now this might actually be our toughest test of the games left to play. Time for heroes? You bet. But from what I saw against Fulham, failure to score aside, I remain confident that there’s still a chance we’ll surprise everone and we’ll be playing the likes Liverpool again next season as opposed to the likes of Brentford.
Joseph Yobo has a calf problem, but Sebastien Bassong will be in contention again after missing out last weekend. Elliot Bennett is still on the road to recovery.
Daniel Sturridge will face a late fitness test due to a hamstring problem, while Jordan Henderson starts a three-match suspension after his red-card against Manchester City.
Norwich: Stoke (D), Southampton (L), Sunderland (W), Swansea (L), West Brom (L), Fulham (L)
One win in six for Norwich with just four points gained from a possible 18, costing Chris Hughton his job in the process.
Liverpool: Man United, Cardiff, Sunderland, Tottenham, West Ham, Man City (All wins!)
Liverpool have actually won their last TEN league games on the spin. When it comes to form, there’ll be no sterner test for Norwich this season.
Last time we met
We can only hope Liverpool’s last visit to Carrow Road is a precursor of things to come.
Luis Suarez netted one of his many hat-tricks against the Canaries to give Liverpool a commanding lead before the hour mark. His first was drilled in nicely from just outside the box, while a cock-up from Michael Turner allowed the Uruguayan to double the lead for the visitors.
He turned provider for Nuri Sahin just after the interval, cutting the ball across the penalty area to give Sahin a tap-in, before he completed his hat-trick with an admittedly lovely curling effort.
Steve Morison scored one of his last goals in Norwich City colours, first to a rebounded Russell Martin effort, but it only reduced the defecit temporarily, as a stinging effort from Steven Gerrard deflevted in off of Leon Barnett to make it 5-1. Grant Holt came on and produced a good finish to complete the scoreline and give the Canaries slightly more in the way of a consolation, but there was no doubt who deserved to prosper in this one.
Head to Head
The Reds are unbeaten in the last 9 Premier League meetings with Norwich.