Liverpool will be determined to win in the Premier League for the first time in the new calendar year when they take on Norwich City at Carrow Road, a ground at which they have triumphed on each of their visits since 1994.
The home side will themselves be intent on producing a considerable response from their last outing, where they were outplayed throughout and got well beaten by fellow strugglers Bournemouth for a result that saw them slip to within four points of the bottom three. The back four was errant and disorganised and they were lucky to only lose by three, which will leave manager Alex Neil concerned as it was a return to the frailties which dogged them earlier on in the campaign.
The signing of Steven Naismith will at least make the Canaries somewhat more menacing going forward, where they have struggled to find a regular goalscorer despite having some good creative players in the shape of Wes Hoolahan and Nathan Redmond. If they can keep things tight and compact at the back, then there is now reason why Norwich cannot cause their underachieving opponents problems here, but history suggests that they will be up against it.
There was a certain inevitability about Liverpool’s fourth consecutive defeat at the hands of arch rivals Manchester United, where they created most of the – albeit scarce – scoring opportunities and generally controlled much of the game, but lost to the only shot on target that Louis van Gaal’s men could muster. It made for a very frustrating afternoon, and one that highlighted how much work needs to be done at the club in terms of its attacking options.
On a good day they are able to reach an unstoppable level, but the lack of consistency within their ranks is really holding the Reds back and rendering any hope of making a run to finish in the top four a mere pipedream. Jurgen Klopp is trying everything he can in order to find that much-needed fluidity, but it only seems to come together for them once in a while, so the German may turn back to top scorer Christian Benteke as he looks to end the wait for a victory.
Naismith is one of three players who could make their Norwich debuts, the others being defenders Timm Klose and Ivo Pinto. Suspension keeps out Gary O’Neil, while Andre Wisdom cannot face his parent club.
Jon Flanagan returned for Liverpool from an 18-month injury lay-off in the FA Cup replay win over Exeter City on Wednesday and could make the squad here, but Daniel Sturridge remains out and Adam Lallana is doubtful with a calf problem.