Liverpool

Liverpool vs. Norwich City: 6 Things We Learned

Mark JonesFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2013

Liverpool vs. Norwich City: 6 Things We Learned

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    Jan Kruger/Getty Images

    Anfield was treated to the Luis Suarez show Wednesday night, as four goals from the quite incredible Uruguayan inspired Liverpool to a 5-1 victory over Norwich City.

    From the 40-yard lob for his first through to the stunning free-kick for his last, Suarez was phenomenal on an evening when Liverpool put aside their weekend disappointment at Hull City to stay in touch with the teams at the top end of the Premier League table.

    He scored a hat-trick in the first 35 minutes, first lobbing John Ruddy from distance, then sweeping home a corner and then half-volleying in from the edge of the penalty area whilst under the attentions of four Norwich defenders.

    His stunning free-kick marked his fourth goal and an amazing 11th in his last four games against Norwich in the second half, and although Bradley Johnson pulled one back for the Canaries, there was still time for Raheem Sterling to put the gloss on the victory with a smart finish from Suarez's pass late on.

    Here are six lessons learnt from a special night at Anfield:

     

The Champions League Will Be a Better Place with Luis Suarez in It

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    Anfield was in awe of Luis Suarez Wednesday, an evening when his goals were met not so much with celebration but with gasps of astonishment.

    Even the most frequent of match-goers were struggling to find a time that they saw anything like the show that Suarez put on.

    It wasn't much the fact that he scored four goals, as others have done that before and will in the future, but it was more the sheer quality of them. Numbers one, three and four could easily win a BBC Goal of the Month competition on their own.

    Profiting from playing in a team that keep the ball and have now developed a ruthless streak, Suarez is displaying the form of his life. He surely will be playing in the Champions League next season, as he deserves to, but contrary to the popular belief of many, he might just be playing there with Liverpool.

    What a prospect that will be.

     

Philippe Coutinho Loves Being the at the Centre of Things

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    It'll be another South American who rightly takes the plaudits, but Philippe Coutinho was brilliant again here.

    In the absence of Daniel Sturridge, the Brazilian has moved infield to take up the central role behind Suarez, and there aren't many better players in the Premier League at the moment at exploiting the gaps between a team's midfield and defence than him.

    Time and time again he was able to pick up the ball and drive at an increasingly worried visiting back line, and had his final ball come off on a couple of occasions, then Liverpool (and perhaps even Suarez) would surely have been celebrating even more goals.

    The Sturridge injury means that the Reds have had to alter things somewhat, but the light at the end of the tunnel comes in the form of their No. 10, who has the potential to become a world star in a very short space of time.

    Don't rule out a World Cup place for him just yet.

Brendan Rodgers Gets It Right at the Back

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    It wasn't a night to talk about Liverpool's defending, although Simon Mignolet and company will be frustrated at allowing Norwich's Bradley Johnson a consolation goal, but Brendan Rodgers' decision to reunite Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel as the Reds' two centre-backs was the right one.

    Sometimes you have to just go with what you know, and although Kolo Toure has been impressive since he arrived at the Reds, and Mamadou Sakho possesses the capabilities to be a top-class defender, Agger and Skrtel know each other's games and seem to bring a calmness to proceedings.

    Admittedly, there were a few stray passes out from defence from Skrtel in particular here, but at a time of the season when Liverpool will need to stay strong in order to keep amassing vitally important points, theirs should be the pairing that the manager trusts the most.

Chris Hughton's Forward Dilemma Isn't an Enviable One

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    Gary Hooper sat on the bench for much of this game with a face like thunder, no doubt wondering why his reward for scoring Norwich's winner against Crystal Palace last weekend was being dropped here.

    Similarly, the unused Luciano Becchio glared at a boss he's not been seeing eye to eye with recently, per BBC, whilst all watched the ineffective Johan Elmander chase shadows all night and fail to do anything with the service chiefly provided for him by the raw Nathan Redmond and the seemingly overawed Leroy Fer.

    Ricky van Wolfswinkel was absent here through injury, but having not scored since the opening day of the season, it is difficult to imagine that he would have made much of an impact anyway.

    None of Norwich's striking options are that inspiring, then, and although deep down Chris Hughton would probably not have expected to get anything from this match anyway, he appears to have a big goalscoring problem to address in January.

     

It's Great to See Raheem Sterling Smiling Again

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    After bursting onto the scene as a 17-year-old last season, things haven't always been easy in 2013 for Raheem Sterling.

    Much of that is down to the fact that Rodgers has had far more options available to him in this calendar year than he did the last one. But having no doubt feared that he'd blown his big chance to impress the manager in the loss at Hull last weekend, there was something hugely heartening about seeing the manager trust the teenager again.

    It was great that he scored, too, with his late strike banishing moments of uncertainty and a little naivety, especially when he took the option to shoot instead of passing to teammates who were placed in better positions. Those weren't just any teammates, either—they were Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrard.

    Playing with such players will only improve him, though, and during this testing period in which the Reds are without Sturridge, perhaps Sterling's star can shine once more.

    It'd be great if it did, anyway.

Luis Suarez Might Just Be the Best Liverpool Forward of the Premier League Era

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    The last word has to go to Suarez, though, who here achieved the kind of feat that mere mortals can only dream of.

    He became the first Liverpool player to score four goals in a Premier League game since Michael Owen did so in a 6-0 win at West Bromwich Albion 10 years ago and the first to do it for Liverpool at Anfield since Owen scored four against Nottingham Forest in October 1998.

    This wasn't just about the number of goals, though, it was about the quality of them.

    Could any great Liverpool forward of the Premier League era such as Owen, Robbie Fowler or Fernando Torres have scored goals like Suarez did against Norwich? The Uruguayan has a case to be regarded as better than all of them.

    On the Kop, they still sing a song about Ian Rush scoring four goals in a 5-0 win over Everton in 1982.

    Maybe they'll be singing about Suarez long after he's called it a day, too.

     

     

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