Liverpool-Norwich City Preview
Brendan Rodgers has Liverpool entering the weekend unexpectedly atop the Premier League with just four games remaining.
With a vital visit from fellow title chasers Chelsea looming, Luis Suarez – Liverpool’s top-scorer and one of their three Player of the Year nominees – will try to continue his staggering scoring barrage against struggling Norwich City at Carrow Road.
The Uruguayan has scored 11 goals in his last four games against Norwich.
Rodgers is in his second season at the helm of Liverpool (24-5-5), which was expected to be the continuation of a rebuilding project after they finished seventh in 2012-13. However, they’ve looked more like a finished product since the turn of the year, going 13-2-0 while scoring 35 goals during a 10-match winning streak to climb to the top of the table.
That tremendous rise was cemented by the Reds’ fantastic 3-2 win over title rivals Manchester City last weekend, as Philippe Coutinho scored the decisive goal in the 78th minute.
Suarez credits Rodgers’ cool demeanor for the club’s success.
"It’s very important to see the manager relaxed," Suarez told the team’s official website. "Brendan gives all of us confidence because he’s good at his job. He believes in all of the squad and when you have that belief from your boss then it’s easier to perform at your best.
"Winning the title would be very special but we can’t think about that yet."
Next weekend’s match versus Chelsea, who enter the weekend two points back in second place with four games to play, is certainly one reason why Suarez is tempering anticipation for Liverpool’s first league title since winning the First Division in 1990.
While that meeting with the Blues could go a long way to determining the champion, Suarez will be looking to continue his almost single-handed demolition of Norwich City (8-8-18). The forward scored four times and assisted Raheem Sterling’s tally in a 5-1 win in the last meeting between the two, at Anfield on Dec. 4.
Suarez’s 29 goals lead the league’s top-scorers.
"Luis is remarkable in his performance level," Rodgers said. "But I take more solace in what we do as a team."
That mentality may be needed as Rodgers may have to find a replacement for Suarez’s strike partner Daniel Sturridge, second in the Premier League with 20 goals.
Sturridge is carrying a hamstring injury, and may be a game-time decision.
Norwich have been outscored 5-0 while losing three league matches in a row, falling 1-0 to fellow relegation rivals Fulham last weekend.
The Canaries enter this weekend only two points ahead of the Cottagers for the final spot in the drop zone, and their remaining fixtures only seem to spell doom.
After facing Liverpool, Norwich City visit Manchester United and Chelsea before hosting Arsenal. But the Canaries are welcoming the role of underdog, particularly at Carrow Road, where they’ve beaten Tottenham, while drawing with Everton and Manchester City this season.
"We’ve shown in the past that we’ve played some of the top teams and played well against them, so there’s no reason why we can’t do that again," defender Michael Turner told the team’s official website. "People have written us off, so we can go into them, give it our all, leave nothing behind and go from there really.
"We’ll keep fighting to the end."
Scoring a goal would also help, especially if it was from leading scorer Gary Hooper.
The forward leads Norwich with seven goals in all competitions, but he has none over his past 16 league matches.