Liverpool take their Premier League title challenge to Norfolk on Sunday as they look to enhance their chances of a first title in 24 years – whilst plunging Norwich into a whole heap of further trouble.
The Canaries have just eight wins to their name this season and only 32 points, leaving them very much a part of the relegation mix.
Also, with Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal all forthcoming in their final three matches, if they do lose then their place in next year’s Championship may as well be booked.
But the Reds know that if they slip up then Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea will be right on top of them and Manchester City will also be offered a way back into the championship race.
And ahead of next week’s clash with the Blues, a loss of momentum is the last thing they’ll want.
With all that being said, here’s 10 things that we can expect from the Carrow Road clash:
Goals, goals and more goals…Surely
In their last 10 league matches, Liverpool fixtures have seen a staggering 48 goals. You don’t need to be a mathematical genius to figure out that that’s an average 4.8 goals per game.
In the five league games between Liverpool and Norwich since the latter’s promotion back to the top-flight in 2011, there have been 23 goals – an average of 4.6 goals per game.
So surely goals are a certainty?
Well, unless Norwich have anything to say about it.
The Canaries are goalless in their last three games, have scored just four times in their last six home matches and their matches this term see an average of just 2.32 goals per game – only Hull and Crystal Palace matches see less.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel not to score (again)
Poor Ricky. The Dutchman arrived at Carrow Road with Chris Hughton having spent a club record £8.5million to secure himself a penalty-box fox from Sporting Lisbon. Unfortunately for the now jobless Hughton, van Wolfswinkel’s been more like an undernourished kitten.
A clinically-taken header against Everton on the opening day of the season seemed to mark the former Utrecht poacher as a case of money well spent, as Norwich looked to build on last year’s mid-table finish.
However, the 25-year-old has failed to net in 22 league appearances since – which is something of a problem for a No.9 who doesn’t actually do much else.
Up against the physically imposing Martin Skrtel/Mamadou Sakho combination at the heart of Liverpool’s defence, don’t expect him to notch this weekend.
Struggles: Van Wolfswinkel has endured a miserable debut season in England
Luis Suarez to net a worldie (again)
Some players just love playing against certain teams – think Alan Shearer vs Leeds – and Norwich are certainly the Uruguayan hitman’s favourite opponents.
In just five matches against the Norfolk club, Suarez has 11 goals to his name, including a pair of 40-yard stunners, a belting 25-yard freekick and a jinking individual golazo.
Also, the former Ajax man owns the Premier League record for most hat-tricks against an individual club, thanks to his three trebles against the Canaries.
All in, expect him to net at Carrow Road – and in keeping with previous events, expect it to be pretty darn good.
Raheem Sterling to continue his excellent England push
The quicksilver speed merchant has dazzled in recent weeks, at was nothing less than outstanding at the point of Brendan Rodgers’ midfield diamond last week, as he scored in the 3-2 win over Manchester City.
His pace and trickery has always been a threat, but the former QPR schoolboy has added further layers to his game this season – more intelligent movement, greater pass appreciation – and now appears just as much at home frequenting central areas as roaming down either flank.
With another strong showing at Carrow Road, the bandwagon calling for him to start for the Three Lions will only grow further, and rightfully so.
Norwich to take to the flanks
As youth team coach, Neil Adams earned a reputation for favouring attacking play as he led the Canaries youngsters to glory in last season’s FA Youth Cup.
He did so by utilising the pace and trickery of teenage twins Jacob and Josh Murphy down either flank, and Adams’ senior bow against Fulham last week showed that he may well be looking to do likewise with the first XI.
Both Robert Snodgrass and Nathan Redmond were selected in wide positions, and both were offered the platform to express themselves, looking to stay high and wide, isolating themselves against opposing full-backs. And for the most part it worked at Craven Cottage, as Norwich created chances – but failed to take them.
Since arriving at the club, Scotland international Snodgrass has shown that he has plenty of skill and invention in his locker, while England under-21 starlet Redmond is a prodigious young talent. If Norwich are to get a result, expect the pair to see plenty of the ball.
Jordan Henderson’s absence to be noticed
The former Sunderland man may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but few have worked harder to earn their place in Brendan Rodgers side in the past 20 months or so.
His late red card against Manchester City last weekend means he’ll sit out three matches and the hard-running midfielder’s absence is certainly a loss.
Defensively Henderson is crucial to the Reds, pressing and harrying opponents, making tackles and interceptions while giving a solid midfield base alongside Steven Gerrard, particularly when all of their much-vaunted front four start together.
Additionally, his importance has grown in an attacking sense this term, with his off-the-ball running helping Luis Suarez (particularly) and colleagues to thrive in the final third as he drags defenders away, while his use of the ball has also improved under Rodgers’ tutelage.
Leroy Fer to play well – as the game’s live on TV
The Dutch international arrived in the Premier League with a burgeoning reputation after impressing with FC Twente in recent years in the Eredivisie.
A versatile, intelligent midfielder with good technique, an eye for goal and a physicality that makes him ideal for the Premier League, his signing was something of a coup.
And while Fer has by no means flopped this term, he’s been somewhat inconsistent, mixing some excellent performances with some non-existent ones.
Fortunately for Norwich fans however, Fer has tended to save his best performances for televised encounters – the away win at Stoke and the home success against Tottenham immediately springing to mind. Perhaps he has another up his sleeve against the Reds on Sunday.
John Ruddy fails to come out for the second half
With Norwich trailing 3-0 at half-time and Luis Suarez having netted another brace – including a a 50-yard overhead kick – Neil “shoes” Adams walks into the changing room, wondering how to turn things around.
For five minutes he talks, trying to encourage his troops – “one goal and we’re right back in this lads” – before noticing his goalkeeper is missing. Adams walks into the shower area to find John Ruddy sitting in the corner, fully clothed, with ice cold water pouring all over him.
“John, John are you ok?” questions Adams.
A quivering Ruddy responds: “P-P-Please boss…no more. S-S-Suarez…J-J-Just no more.”
‘Where are you’ part 2
It’s been almost a decade, but still the greatest part of Norwich City’s Premier League existence – for anyone but a Canary – is Delia Smith’s half-time rant at her own supporters in 2005.
And now, with her club facing a massive test of character with four devilishly tough fixtures to end the season and their survival hopes very much in the balance, what better time for a repeat performance?
Surely there isn’t any way more fitting for viewers at home to enjoy their Sunday lunches than by witnessing her cook up another storm.
More Liverpool will/won’t win the title articles
This past week, articles written by players turned pundits proclaiming Liverpool as champions have been plentiful. More than that, they’ve been inescapable.
If you’ve opened your eyes and read anything football-related this week, then you’ve probably been invited to read such a piece, as they’ve pretty much been everywhere. And usually written by the same people proclaiming Manchester City as champions back before Christmas, or Chelsea three weeks ago.
So, when the dust settles on proceedings at Carrow Road, expect some more.
If Liverpool lose, expect to be offered analysis words on how Reds boss Brendan Rodgers got things so wrong, and how their squad was never strong enough. However, if they win an 11th straight game….*shudders*