View from the opposition: Liverpool fan on Norwich’s chances at Anfield today
- Credit: PA
Liverpool fan and EDP and Evening News letters editor Simon Gotts looks ahead to today's match.
•What have you made of Liverpool's start to the season?
In the words of 'Arry Redknapp, 'bang average'. The win at Stoke on the opening day was a huge bonus, especially in the wake of the 6-1 drubbing we received at the Britannia at the end of last season. However, the warning signs were there as the performance wasn't great and it took one of Phillipe Coutinho's trademark goal of the month contenders to claim all three points. Apart from one good half at Arsenal, when we actually looked like a team with a plan, we've struggled. Our points tally has been boosted by some poor refereeing decisions and to be totally outplayed by West Ham, at Anfield, is simply unacceptable.
•Have any of the new signings impressed yet?
Nathaniel Clyne has been good and Joe Gomez has done pretty well for a young lad being played out of position at left back. Liverpool fans had high hopes for £29million signing Roberto Firmino, but aside from one long-range strike which hit a post, we've yet to see much from the Brazilian. James Milner has been solid and runs all day, which is pretty much what you'd expect from him and Danny Ings has had limited opportunities. When Ings did get a chance at Old Trafford he was played in an unfamiliar wide position, so it was hard to judge him. Christian Benteke, pictured, has done ok. We all know he has ability, as he proved with that stunner against Man United, but he'd score more often if the manager's tactics didn't leave him so frequently starved of service.
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•Are there any weaknesses City could take advantage of?
The heart of the defence is suspect and neither Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren or keeper Simon Mignolet are convincing. Any one of them is easily capable of making a huge error at any time, as Lovren proved with his horror show against West Ham. Some fans (including me) are now calling for a central defensive partnership of Mamadou Sakho and Gomez, but I doubt we'll see that any time soon. If City can pressurise our defence, they might well get some joy.
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•Does Brendan Rodgers still have the backing of most fans?
I don't believe so. It's not just the fact we're losing too many games, it's the way we're losing them. There's no heart, no fight in the team, and that must come down to the manager. Rodgers has had one good season thanks to the genius of Luis Suarez, backed up by a brilliant Daniel Sturridge, when we almost won the league, but even then the manager's inability to sort out the defence cost us the title. He plays too many players out of position too frequently, has spent loads of cash, mainly on players who have flopped, we still can't defend and we're now struggling to score. I think the only thing that can save him now is if Sturridge comes back from injury and strikes up a goalscoring partnership with Benteke. If we fail to beat Norwich, the knives will really be out.
•Is the influence of Steven Gerrard being missed?
His powers may have been waning, but he would certainly have brought some passion and fight to the team. Our midfield is also sadly lacking in creativity at the moment and if Gerrard had been utilised in a more advanced role at times this season, I believe he could have had a big part to play.
•Who do you expect will be the key players against Norwich?
Coutinho is the main man for us this season. Most of the good things we do come through the little magician and if Norwich can stop him, or if he has an off day, they've got a great chance of getting something.
•Do you think Norwich will steer clear of the relegation battle?
I fancy Norwich to stay up as long as they can keep their key players fit. I rate Alex Neil and if Norwich can hang on to him for a few seasons and back him in the transfer market I think they could become an established Premier League side.
•Which of City's players will Liverpool fans be most wary of?
It's Wes Hoolahan and Nathan Redmond for me. I've always rated Hoolahan and he's in good form. He's a clever player who impressed me with his performance at Anfield a few years ago when City got a 1-1 draw. Redmond's pace could certainly cause us problems if he gets the chance to run at the centre of our defence.
•What are your memories of previous matches against the Canaries?
Good ones in recent years, especially with the incredible goalscoring exploits of Mr Suarez. God I miss him. Going back to the 1980s, when I first started going to matches, games against City were usually close. My first game at Anfield, in 1986, was special and we ran out 6-2 winners thanks to goals from Ian Rush, Steve Nicol and a Paul Walsh hat-trick. The last game in front of the old Kop also sticks in the mind, for obvious reasons. A depressing day on many levels.
•And finally, what is your prediction for the match?
I'm going to be optimistic and say 1-0 to Liverpool, with Benteke getting the winner, although if the Canaries do get something I won't be surprised.