3rd Type Of Pressure
Brendan Rodgers’ men face yet another kind of pressure against Norwich City on Sunday. The first of such pressures was against Tottenham Hotspur a few weeks ago, when Liverpool had the chance to lead the table with a win at Anfield, they duly delivered with an emphatic 4-0 win. What pressure, some ask? Then during the next weekend, Manchester City had just leapfrogged the Reds back into first, and Rodgers’ men had to win at West Ham United to reclaim top spot. The Reds edged a controversial 2-1 victory against Sam Allardyce’s side. What pressure, others moan?
Now having seen fellow title rivals fall at the wayside from the visit of the mighty Sunderland and tactical mastermind Gus Poyet to the Etihad first and then Stamford Bridge, drawing with Manuel Pellegrini’s men after Samir Nasri’s late equaliser followed by the unlikeliest of victories at Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea – YES you read that right, after 70-odd games, Mourinho loses his unbeaten Stamford Bridge record against, not City, not even Everton.. Sunderland. These results not only leave Liverpool untouched at the top, they also serve a timely reminder to Rodgers and his side of the dangers of any tinge of complacency.
Norwich may be Luis Suarez’s favourite opponent to score against, Norwich may be sitting just above the drop zone and just sacked their manager, but like how Sunderland’s week of heroics proves, anything can happen in the Premier League. But back to the pressure Liverpool will face at Norwich.
They know that if they win, they will extend their lead at the top to 5 points, and put subsequent pressure on City’s Monday night game. They know if they win, they go into the game against Chelsea next weekend with less pressure, knowing a draw is a scoreline which benefits them.
This is Liverpool’s chance to put significant pressure on their title rivals by extending their lead at the top, but will this new sort of pressure get to the Reds?
Time To Step Up, Iago Aspas
Oussama Assaidi scored Stoke’s winner against Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium, while Fabio Borini just did the same at Stamford Bridge. What do these men have in common? They are/were bit part players of Rodgers’ side, and are out on-loan at ‘lesser’ sides hoping to gain enough experience to make an impact at Liverpool next season, especially with added games of the Champions League looming.
With Daniel Sturridge an injury doubt for Norwich, it is really Iago Aspas’ time to step out of the shadows and contribute to the cause. Seeing so little game time and scoring his solitary strike against Oldham in the FA Cup, Aspas could be needed for tomorrow’s game, and maybe for the other 3 games. He really needs to follow in Assaidi and Borini’s footsteps and start impacting games.
He might see some action off the bench tomorrow, should – God forbid – anything goes wrong tomorrow (touchwood), so Aspas needs to be ready and get amongst it all when need be. Just one goal from him in the next four games might actually give him some sort of cult status amongst the fans.
To a lesser extent, Joe Allen or Lucas Leiva needs to fill the void of Jordan Henderson. Both men have been in decent form when played this season, but they will need to step it up to another level as Rodgers look to replace his engine of the team.
Suarez vs Norwich?
Much has been said about Suarez’s form against Norwich. What is comforting to see is how his support has come to the fore in recent weeks. Philipp Coutinho’s goal against Spurs and his winner against City last week, Raheem Sterling’s continued brilliant run of form, this has all allowed the heat to be taken off Suarez.
You could see, for all his danger and threat, Suarez was sort of shackled by Martin Demichelis last week, but Sterling and Coutinho continued their rise with another two dominant performances. With Norwich concentrating on shutting Suarez out, more of Sterling and Coutinho will be needed to break the Canaries’ defence down.
In a reverse thought, hopefully Sterling and Coutinho will catch enough attention from Norwich’s back line to allow Suarez to regain his scoring touch.