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Liverpool Club Focus - Reds eye form ahead of cup final

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By Mushtaq Quraishi

Friday 27 April 2012

Goal-shy Liverpool head into their next Premier League match against Norwich City knowing that not only would an eighth top-flight defeat in eleven games for the Reds allow the Canaries to go level on points with them, but it would also cast serious doubt over the Merseysiders’ chances of finishing in the top ten. For a side that was aiming for a Champions League place at the start of the campaign, a bottom half finish would be a significant disappointment, regardless of how many trophies they end up clinching this term.

That promoted Norwich are anywhere near Liverpool in the table at such a late stage of the season should be of grave concern to Kenny Dalglish. It has been widely publicised that the Reds have spent handsomely under the Scot and although some of these figures are not accurately put into context – Dalglish has splashed out over £110m on new players, but he has also overseen around £70m of sales while trimming the wage-bill – Liverpool’s team full of international stars is still far more valuable than the players Paul Lambert has at his disposal. Norwich have punched well above their weight this season, but their upcoming opponents have underachieved.

Therefore, it would not come as a surprise to many if Norwich were to record a victory over the Reds. Only five teams in the Premier League have lost more games on their travels than Liverpool, while just the top six and Fulham have scored more goals at home than the Canaries. This is unlikely to be an easy fixture for the visitors and while Dalglish’s men can take plenty of encouragement from the great number of chances they created against West Bromwich Albion last time out, the Merseysiders cannot afford a repeat of that result.

Although the Anfield outfit have been relatively solid at the back this season – Liverpool have allowed their opponents fewer shots on target (120) than any other team and also have the third-best defensive record in the top-flight – things have not quite gone to plan at the other end of the pitch. The Reds have converted an alarming 9% of their shots into goals, while hitting the woodwork more than any other side (30). Strikers Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez as well as Liverpool’s attack-minded midfielders will have to be more accurate in front of goal if the team are to climb above local rivals Everton into seventh.

Meanwhile, Dalglish is likely to shuffle his pack as the Reds prepare to play three games within the space of a week. Charlie Adam will miss the rest of the season through injury, but skipper Steven Gerrard is back in training and could feature at Norwich. But with the FA Cup final coming next Saturday, the manager may limit Gerrard’s opportunities in the Premier League in order to keep him fresh for that crucial clash at Wembley.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Norwich v Liverpool

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