Liverpool Will Need Luis Suarez to Come Up Big Against Norwich City...Again

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2014


Liverpool's next test in their Premier League title challenge comes on Sunday, in the form of an away game at Norwich City.

With the Reds having won a phenomenal 10 league games in a row to surge to the top of the league table, the Canaries are instead looking at a run of form which comprises three straight defeats and just two wins in their last 10.

It looks pretty straightforward, as much as any top-flight game can be, but as Sunderland showed against Manchester City on Wednesday night, the bottom teams can trouble those at the top if the "better" team does not play to its fullest potential.

For a number of reasons, Liverpool will be looking to top scorer Luis Suarez to repeat his Carrow Road heroics on Sunday. Thankfully, Norwich seem to be the Uruguayan's favourite opposition.


Suarez vs. the Canaries

NORWICH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 29:  Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates scoring his second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Liverpool at Carrow Road on September 29, 2012 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Ge
Julian Finney/Getty Images

The Reds' No. 7 has played five times against Norwich City since joining English football; so far, those five games have yielded a quite remarkable 11 goals.

Those 11 goals encompass a record three hat-tricks against the same side.

There was the goal from the halfway line in April 2012, putting the seal on a quite phenomenal first Liverpool hat-trick. The other two were terrific low finishes but are rather forgotten amongst the furore over the third.

The beginning of 2012-13 season saw him hit another three at Carrow Road, this time in a 5-2 win.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 4:   Luis Suarez of Liverpool scores his first goal from a long range effort during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Norwich City at Anfield on December 4, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Jan Kru
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Then this season, in December, Suarez netted a total of four goals in a 5-1 win—including at least two goal-of-the-season contenders.

He generally seems to thrive on the open, expansive style of midfield that Norwich attempt to apply—not particularly successfully—making use of the space and finishing with unerring and spectacular ability.


Why the Burden will Be on Suarez

With no Jordan Henderson for the weekend, suspended as a result of his red card against Manchester City, Liverpool will quite probably change their midfield shape for the trip to Norwich.

Additionally, there is likely to be no Daniel Sturridge, with the striker having suffered a minor injury, as per The No. 15 could make the trip, but with a huge potential title decider against Chelsea to come, he won't be risked if there is the possibility of worsening what is at present a non-serious strain.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 30:  Jordan Henderson of Liverpool celebrates with his team-mates Daniel Sturridge (L) and Luis Suarez after scoring the fourth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

It all points to Suarez playing a lone centre-forward role at the weekend—though Brendan Rodgers could spring a surprise, of course—meaning he'll be tasked with occupying the Norwich defence and breaking them down with his creativity and relentless work.

He'll also be expected to be the team's main goalscoring threat this time out, something which hasn't necessarily had to be the case of late.


Tiring? Or Sharing the Load?

It seems folly to question the ability and consistency of the Premier League's leading goalscorer, who so far has 29 goals in 29 games in this season's league campaign.

And while that's not exactly the case here, there is no question that Suarez's goalscoring rate has dropped off somewhat. It was perhaps inevitable he wouldn't continue to score at more than a goal per game for the entire season, but he's actually now only scored one goal in four games since his hat-trick at Cardiff City.

CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 22:  Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates after scoring hihs third and his team's sixth goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match between Cardiff City and Liverpool at Cardiff City Stadium on March 22, 2014 in Cardiff
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

During that period, Liverpool have scored 11 in total. Is it Suarez slowing down? Probably not really; he's still created seven chances in those four games, with an assist for Raheem Sterling at the weekend, but it's been more a case of the entire team contributing to goals of late.

Seven different scorers have found the net over these last four fixtures. Two of them might be absent, though, while Steven Gerrard's goals have come from the penalty spot.

Liverpool will fancy their chances of picking up three points regardless, as long as they heed captain Gerrard's words to produce the same sort of performance as against Manchester City, but there's no doubt that they'd love Suarez to hit the target multiple times against Norwich City, as he seems to love to do so much.


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