Observations on Liverpool 2-1 Norwich in the FA Cup
Three days after conquering bitter rivals Chelsea in the League Cup Final, the Reds returned home from the capital for another domestic cup tie. After experiencing the exhilarating high of winning a trophy in incredibly tense circumstances, it would have understandable for a normal team to lose focus in a midweek match against a relegation-quality side. However, comments from multiple players that the League Cup victory was only stage 1 completed with 3 more to go suggested that Jurgen’s boys would set about the task at hand, even with a side largely composed of rotation players.
And while Liverpool obviously were not at their scintillating best, they had plenty in their locker to dispatch the mostly lifeless Canaries. The Reds controlled early proceedings rather easily with consistent but sterile possession. Yet, the breakthrough came thanks to Liverpool’s domestic dominator, Taki Minamino. The Japanese international coolly dispatched a well-played control and pass from Lord Divock to put the Reds on the scoreboard. Rather than rest on their laurels, the goal sparked Liverpool into further gear, and a mere twelve minutes later, Minamino kept up Liverpool’s dominance off set pieces by firing a dart into the top corner. Taki’s brace gave him 7 goals in 6 domestic cup matches this season, and his play this season has been the main catalyst behind Klopp’s resurgence in the cups that have largely eluded him in his time at Anfield.
Norwich would ultimately make the Reds sweat a tiny bit with a late goal that made it theoretically possible if extremely unlikely that the East Anglian side might level the score and force extra time. However, Liverpool never had to get out of second gear in this one and saw the game out in unspectacular fashion to progress to the quarterfinals.
After the festivities of the weekend, it was a rather routine affair under the lights. Yet, it is a testament to the side that Jurgen has helped build that he can rotate heavily and still keep progressing towards more silverware and honors. Tougher tests surely loom both in the FA Cup and other competitions (especially after Boreham Wood add to Everton’s embarrassment), but for one more match at least, the quadruple dream stays alive.