Liverpool return home before embarking on nasty fixture list.
You know when you're eating some pretty nuclear hot wings, or maybe some chips and salsa, and you have to take a break in the middle of it to swig down a lot of water before your eyeballs melt? That's what this fixture feels like. Of course, it could be that dreaded doughnut game, with tough fixtures on either side that your overlook.
After the loss at Old Trafford, on the other side of this speed bump lie three away games that don't look appetizing at all. Away to Oldham in the FA Cup might not sound daunting, but traveling to any lower division side with their battle-ground pitches and passionate fans looking for a memory can turn into a quagmire in a matter of seconds. And it's not like Liverpool looked all that convincing at a non-league side, did they? After that, trips to The Emirates and Eastlands await in the span of four days. So yeah, very spicy indeed.
Which makes this one a must -- assuming it even takes place due to the snow falling in Liverpool. If you've spent any time in the UK in the winter, you know how the smallest amount of snow accumulation turns everyone into a raving lunatic and essentially catapults it back into the Dark Ages. Texas handles snow better. While the Anfield pitch is heated and covered and would be perfectly playable (unless it just dumps white stuff in the hour or two before the match), getting there could be the issue and that's what could cause a cancellation. Keep your eyes peeled.
If it does take place, this will be the first time that Brendan Rodgers can toss out his first-choice front-line of Sturridge-Suarez-Borini. Yes, Fabio only got half an hour against United, but he can probably get you a full hour tomorrow which sets up perfectly to have Sterling replace him -- the exact kind of role that Sterling should be playing for the next little while.
Will that set-up work? Hard to say. They're all mobile and creative with their running, so they will open up space for each other and keep the Canaries defense guessing. But they showed a penchant for running into the same spaces at Old Trafford, which could be a problem. After all, they all do want to play through the middle. But if you can't try this set up against a team like Norwich, when can you?
Once again, the midfield is the question. As I feel like I will be repeating on my deathbed, Gerrard is better when bracketed. That means Lucas behind him and Henderson in front of him. Get him away from whatever midfield marker is there to take the most advanced, and have him disguise his bursts forward from behind the active Henderson. After Allen's nightmare against United, this is what I'm expecting. But you're never too sure.
The only change the defense might see is Downing shifting to left-back. With Norwich likely to bunker in and Liverpool needing attacking strength from everywhere, this is the kind of match the Downing-at-left-back-theory was designed for.
Norwich could provide some urpiness though the bullish work of Grant Holt. He's the kind of battering ram that has given Agger and Skrtel problems recently. Pilkington and Snodgrass from the wings could expose if Johnson or Downing/Wisdom get too infatuated with getting forward. But this is a side that Liverpool -- and more to the point, Suarez -- have destroyed twice in a row. At Anfield, it really shouldn't be any different. Even if it is a snowglobe.