Observations from Liverpool's crazy win at Norwich
How do you describe that game? 100% value for money based on the entertainment provided, but I’m sure a few hearts skipped a few beats as Norwich City seemed to have rescued a point in injury time only to have it snatched away from them by Adam Lallana, as the Reds came away from Carrow Road with three points, despite being nowhere near as good as they can.
A game that didn’t provide the greatest quality the Premier League can exhibit, but it was fabulous entertainment, especially in the second-half.
- We still cannot defend set-pieces. Or crosses into the box, for that matter. Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure put in a pretty commanding display against Man United last week, but today they were back to being shaky and uncertain, as we just could not clear our lines convincingly enough from crosses put into the box. Admittedly, they weren’t helped too much by our midfielders, but Mbokani and Naismith ran us ragged through the game. The first goal came about because of an indecisive header from Henderson, the second one because Lucas was stationary and didn’t track Naismith’s run, and the third because of Moreno’s madness.
- Alberto Moreno cannot defend. Although the little Spaniard does make a few fabulous, eye-catching retreating tackles, he still does not get the basics right. Positionally, he is all over the place, and his decision-making is awful. This was perfectly exemplified by the penalty he gave away. He got caught on the wrong side of Naismith, and made a tackle, that some would argue, he was lucky to get away with. But then, inexplicably, he nibbled at Naismith again, and Lee Mason had no choice but to award Norwich the spot-kick.
- Adam Lallana changed the course of the game. After all the criticism that he has deservedly received, Lallana finally stepped up. After replacing Jordon Ibe, he was constantly being a pest to the Norwich defenders, and unlike his recent performances, he backed that up with quality on the ball as well. An assist for Firmino’s second goal and his winner will quantify this performance for him, but he did more than just that. He brought much needed urgency to our play, and constantly tried to run in behind Norwich, although he did get caught offside a couple of times.
- Jordan Henderson is not Steven Gerrard. So, he shouldn’t try to be a Gerrard on the pitch. As Sam McGuire says here, that is not something that comes naturally to him. I’d rather have him stick to what he has shown us already, than be someone he isn’t. Not just in terms of being a leader, as a midfielder, Henderson was a peripheral figure in the game, and barely had any influence on it. Looking back on the game, his goal will probably overshadow what was a very concerning performance from Liverpool’s captain.
- Man of the Match? Such a game should ideally not have any, for the woeful defending that was on show, from both teams. But for me, this was a battle between Firmino and James Milner. The tenacious Yorkshireman put to rest some of the critics with a goal and an assist, while Firmino was bright through the game. Two really well-taken goals, and some extremely intelligent running showed the quality that the Brazilian has. Firmino also set up Henderson’s goal. In the end, this was a battle that Firmino probably shaded.
- Steven Caulker has not yet played at centre-back for the first team. He was brought on as a late substitute against both Arsenal and Manchester United to play as an additional centre forward. Today, he came on to safeguard the 4-3 lead, but played alongside Lucas, in front of the centre backs. And after we equalized, Caulker went back to the position where he has spent most minutes for Liverpool, as he made a nuisance of himself in the build up to Lallana’s winner.
- Such games shouldn’t come along too often. At least, I hope Liverpool don’t get involved in them. Not good for anyone’s heart rate, and doesn’t do the confidence of our defenders any good.
It’s safe to say that this is not ideal preparation for our defenders with the second leg of a cup semi-final coming up in three days, but at least we got the three points, and as always with those points, comes the hope that we can get ourselves going with a reasonable run of results.