Friday, April 27, 2012
Norwich City host Liverpool on Saturday three points behind the five-time European Cup winners in the Premier League.
A comparison not after the opening month of the season or over Christmas, but - in the Canaries’ case - with only three games left. That says everything about the success of Paul Lambert’s side and the relative decline - in league terms - of Kenny Dalglish’s.
The Reds have a squad the envy of all bar the biggest clubs in the division, but Dalglish has been unable to engineer a level of consistency. A League Cup win and FA Cup final place underlines the fact there remains plenty of quality at his disposal.
That big Wembley day on the horizon can work one of two ways in this early evening kick-off. Liverpool’s players may treat it as one of their last chances to cement a starting place for the showpiece occasion. Or Dalglish may opt to rest some of his higher profile stars for Chelsea - albeit Fulham head to Anfield next midweek.
Irrespective of Liverpool’s line-up, Paul Lambert will expect a positive reaction from a largely anaemic display at Ewood Park. Expect home changes after a lacklustre Blackburn outing. Playing in the Premier League should remain motivation enough - but a televised offering against one of the blue chip Premier League entities adds an extra cache.
James Vaughan would love nothing better than to banish his injury woes against one-time Merseyside foes.
David Fox was a calming influence at Anfield in that notable 1-1 draw. Luis Suarez versus John Ruddy was the headline bout, but City have grown immeasurably in both self-confidence and belief. A goalless draw against the men from Stamford Bridge remains the best home league result against the traditional powerhouses. Liverpool offers a chance to go one better.
• Norwich City 2, Liverpool 1