Norwich City are facing a fight for their Premier League survival but with four of the top seven teams still to face them in their four remaining games, it will be a tough task. The job facing them will not be made any easier by the fact that the first of the four teams to face them are current league leaders, Liverpool.
The Canaries are still adjusting to life under Neil Adams and despite having the board’s support in keeping the team in the Premier League, he was unable to prevent his side losing to fellow strugglers Fulham last weekend. Liverpool on the other hand moved one step closer to winning their first title in 24 years with their win over Manchester City at Anfield.
Brendan Rodgers’ men know they need only win their remaining games and the trophy is theirs but it will be no easy task for them on Sunday afternoon, despite Norwich’s bad form in recent weeks.
Joseph Yobo is unavailable for Norwich this weekend due to injury and Elliot Bennett is also unlikely to feature until the team’s next game at least. However, Adams should be have a fully fit squad to choose from apart from these two players.
Liverpool will be without Jordan Henderson this weekend as he will serve the first of his three match suspension for the red card he received last weekend. Rodgers has said in his pre-match press conference that Daniel Sturridge may be fit for this fixture if he can recover from a leg strain in time, however I would not be surprised to see him miss the game in order to be fully fit for the Reds’ game against Chelsea next week.
Norwich have lost and won none of their last eight Premier League games against Liverpool.
The Canaries have conceded just 13 goals at home this season, only three other Premier League teams have managed fewer.
They have lost their last two home games against Liverpool by a margin of three goals.
Luis Suarez has scored 11 league goals against Norwich, including a league-record three hat-tricks.
No team has scored more than 90 goals in England’s top division and not won the title since West Bromwich Albion in 1965-66.
Liverpool have won their last two league games without any goals being scored by Suarez or Sturridge, the only times that has happened this season.
Norwich City – Gary Hooper
The former Celtic striker has made 29 appearances for Norwich this season but hasn’t been able to make a significant mark on his new club, scoring just five goals. However, Hooper can probably consider himself unlucky in this respect. He has attempted 32 shots at goal this season, 20 of which have been on target so perhaps more credit should be given to the goalkeepers he has faced rather than him facing criticism.
This means he has a shooting accuracy of 63%. His chance conversion leaves much to be desired however with only 16% of those that have come his way resulting in goals. Similarly, he has only been able to score two of the seven clear-cut chances he has had, giving him a conversion rate of just 22%. Norwich have found it hard to take their chances this season and Hooper’s stats only serve to reinforce that fact. However, Rodgers will have prepared his defence for Hooper nonetheless.
Liverpool – Raheem Sterling
Sterling has been one of Liverpool’s best players and this has been no more apparent than in his performance against Manchester City last weekend. Due to Sturridge’s injury, it is likely Sterling will take up even more of a forward role alongside Suarez than he has already. The 19 year old has shown he can deal with this role this season, contributing seven goals to Liverpool’s tally.
Like Hooper, Sterling has been mostly accurate in front of goal despite the lower goal tally, being accurate with 67% of his 30 shots. Of course, Sterling has been lauded most for his creative ability this season and he has managed to create 41 chances overall, three of which have resulted in assists. This means that he has created a chance every 46 minutes on average this season. If he can play anywhere near the level he achieved against City last week, then Sterling will be one of the players Norwich have to heavily prepare for.
Norwich will make it difficult for Liverpool and must do so if they are to ensure their survival in the league. Liverpool will have to learn from Manchester City’s lesson in their game against Sunderland on Wednesday; anything can happen against the league’s so-called smaller teams. However, I think that Liverpool will ultimately have too much for Norwich to deal with and win 3-1.