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Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Visits to Anfield may not carry quite the same novelty as they did three years ago – but don’t underestimate their sway.
After all, tonight’s trip north is one of the reasons why Gary Hooper ignored the lure of Scottish silverware and a few nights in the glorious glow of Champions League football, to recommence his career in England with Norwich City.
“It’s a massive game, Liverpool away, at one of the stadiums I’ve always want to play at,” said Hooper. “It’s going to be a tough game. They were on form (before Sunday) and we’ve won at the weekend. So we’ve got to take that into Wednesday.
“It’ll be my first time there. Never been there, never played there.”
All being well, that will change tonight. And if City can use the 25-year-old to his maximum, they may well be on to a winner.
That’s been the theme so far this season – Gary Hooper scores, Norwich City end up victorious.
The League Cup comeback at Watford, plus Premier League home wins over West Ham and Saturday against Crystal Palace: it’s a list that has done its fair share to lift some of the pressure on Norwich boss Chris Hughton. It also represents a decent early return of four goals in 10 appearances – or six starts – since his £5.5m move from Celtic.
The winning streak isn’t lost on Hooper either.
“It’s a good stat, yes, if you look into it that way,” he said. “It’s just the home games in the Premier League though. I think we play very well at Carrow Road. We get results there and as I’ve said time and time again, you don’t get many chances. Even me watching it on telly last year and playing in it now, you just don’t get many chances. When you do you’ve got to take them.
“That’s still the biggest surprise – I thought you’d get more chances. But that’s the Premier League for you.
“It’s a quick-tempo game and I’m nearly getting there. There are a lot of athletes and it’s physical.
“At Celtic I’d get a good four or five chances in a game. In England it’s one or two, and you’ve got to take one when it comes.”
But Hooper wouldn’t have it any other way. Week in, week out the striker is getting what he wanted – a regular top-class challenge.
“It’s the regular football – the Premier League is the best league in the world. Champions League is nice but it’s not every week is it. The Premier League, and then playing at Old Trafford a few weeks ago. We’re going to Anfield on Wednesday. It doesn’t get better than that.”
But while the venues are appealing, everyone at Carrow Road is aware City’s current away form cannot continue. The last four away games in all competitions read as lost four, scored two, conceded 17.
Hooper is keen to play his own part in that – as well as continuing his own improvement as he adjusts to the English top flight.
“I’m getting used to it,” said Hooper. “I’m still learning things and it’s hard to get used to the league, the pace of the game.
“I’ve got to be patient, not get wound up and just try to link the play. You’ve got to work hard. It’s non-stop, the pace is so quick.”