Editorials, News — October 23, 2011 22:22

Liverpool v Norwich – Match Report

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Liverpool’s last two outings in the league have seen them face bitter rivals Everton and Man Utd in back to back fixtures. One win and one draw from these games didn’t seem like a bad points tally – 4 out of 6.  So, when the fixtures list read Norwich City as Liverpool’s next opponents, it should have provided lighter relief for the Reds.

The Match

Liverpool started off very brightly with Martin Skrtel’s header hitting the crossbar in the 2nd minute. There was great tempo to our game and with Liverpool attacking the Kop end, Liverpool launched into a early period of sustained attack which was fabulous to watch! Luis Suarez who just defies logic with his turning and twisting, came close after spinning away from two defenders and taking a shot with the outside of his boot. Quite simply, a majestic piece of play from Liverpool’s number 7,that deserved better. Had Suarez guided it in rather than going for power, we would have been seeing replays of this goal in years to come.

 

The next piece of action came when, Charlie Adam’s superb cross field ball found Craig Bellamy, who brought the ball down with his chest and skipped past the defender and sent an inviting cross which was met by Suarez’s first time shot. John Ruddy like the previous opposition  goalkeeper (De Gea) seemed to  be having his best game against us. Suarez’s first time shot was saved by Ruddy and went on to hit the post. The incoming Stewart Downing had a chance to find the back of the net, but a slightly wayward shot found the Kop.  Liverpool were getting close. We had to wait until first half stoppage time before getting the breakthrough. Bellamy finding the net after the ball ricocheted of Russell Martin. Liverpool went into the break 1-0 up.

The second half started well for Liverpool with Suarez again spinning effortlessly and going past Leon Barnett before his shot came off Martin and hit the post.  A positive start but the second goal was not coming for the Reds. Instead the second goal of the game came for the away team, substitute Grant Holt caught on to a finely measured crossed from Anthony Pilkington, and Holt who had only been on for 5 minutes, equalised. The mood had changed and out of nothing, Norwich were level. It could have got worse for the Reds as Holt struck a far post header which was instinctively saved by Pepe Reina. Norwich came close to taking the lead and that was all it would take for Livepool to rue those missed chances. The Reds went on searching for the winner but that never came. Liverpool came very close with a header from Andy Carroll that went wide and then a magnificently struck volley from Suarez, which again was saved by Ruddy.  A dramatic end to 90minutes saw Liverpool create chances but none were finished off.

Not being able to push on from the Man Utd game in terms of getting the result was disappointing. Like fellow Reds I did not in my wildest dreams think we would be held to a 1-1 draw. It was the unthinkable, Norwich to get a draw at Anfield, it just did not cross my mind. I thought we had enough to secure the three points. Just as soon as we could begin to build on the back of the Man Utd and Everton results, reality hit, the Norwich game once again raised questions?

Chances being created but not being finished

Last week we should have won and this week we should have won as well. Liverpool are now creating chances at free will, and this is a massive step forward in the right direction. Being in a position where you are opening up teams and bombarding them with wave after wave of attack is a strong characteristic of a football team.  It shows understanding between the players and the team are gelling better as a unit. If we are being fair, Liverpool are showing positive signs in this area and being able to carve out opportunities game after game is a mark of good progress. During the Norwich game, Liverpool had 56% of the possession, we had 25 shots on goal with 10 shots hitting the target, but only one chance converted.

‘Clinical’ was the operative word at the end of the Man Utd game and is the same word which I will use to best describe our inability to finish Norwich off. Whilst accepting we hit the woodwork three times, and Kevin Ruddy made some outstanding saves, had we been more clinical with our chances the game may not have taken the course it did. After not converting our chances in the first half, and clinging on to a 1-0 going into the second half, this simply is not enough to secure a result. At 1-0 down the away team have hope they can get back into the game, but at 3-0 down, hope is extinguished. Liverpool did not make the most of their chances, whether it be the Downing’s sliced volley or Suarez’s shot from the outside of his boot, these chance were not taken. Both opportunities had an air of rashness, slightly hurried. A composed and controlled finished may have seen the ball ripple the net.

Do we need finishers?

Last week Stevie G stepped up to take the free kick and cool and composed guided it into the back of the net. An opportunity arose, and was duly taken by our Captain, he was clinical. Bellamy had an opportunity in front of the Kop in stoppage time and slotted it into the net – clinical.

So do we need finishers or are we just suffering from a lack of confidence? I don’t know the answer but what I do know is, Liverpool will need to show more sharpness when it comes to finishing off their chances. The home draws against Stoke, West Ham, Fulham and Hull during the 2008-09 season arguably deprived us from winning the title. We have to learn from the past seasons and must be able to finish off teams like Norwich. It can’t be another story of plenty of chances but not many goals. If Liverpool need another finisher then we ought to buy one during the January transfer window.

There is very little point in a team creating chance after chance and not being able to convert them. Liverpool need to start demonstrating a more ruthless and clinical streak in their game if they are going to make headway this season. Such a streak was demonstrated by Man City at Old Trafford.  The chances that were taken by Man City eventually saw them take the game away from their neighbours.

Final thoughts

Football is a game of fine margins, and with no guaranteed wins in the Premier League we need to make the most of our opportunities. Leaving Anfield last week, ‘clinical’ was a word that was floating in my thoughts after the Man Utd game, a word I thought I would not be using so soon after that game.

Liverpool have a strong nucleus – we are showing progress but need to finish teams off – In Kenny we trust.

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