By Christopher Boulay
Liverpool heads into the weekend on a bit of a low note, as the club lost a midweek friendly to Rangers at Ibrox, 1-0. While it was a mostly second-string side, the toothless display was the least of manager Kenny Dalglish’s worries.
Brazilian backup keeper Doni dislocated his finger after saving a hard shot from former Burnley man Kyle Lafferty. With Doni out, it will likely be Brad Jones stepping in as the second-choice goalkeeper for the Reds. Many Liverpool fans will be crossing their fingers that the typically healthy Pepe Reina won’t pick up a knock in the match, as Jones has been disappointing since joining from Middlesbrough last August. Lucas is Liverpool’s only other absentee as he serves a one game suspension following his fifth yellow card of the season against Manchester United last weekend.
The Reds witnessed a positive result against Manchester United — drawing 1-1 — but still may rue their missed chances, as it may have been unjust not to grab all three points. However, skipper Steven Gerrard scored his 50th goal at Anfield in his first start this season for the club, which could prove to be a long-term morale booster.
It will not be easy this weekend when Norwich City comes to Anfield. The newly-promoted side has an impressive 11 points from eight matches. The Canaries disposed of Swansea, 3-1, last weekend, and will be looking to do much of the same against a Liverpool side that seems to still be sorting itself out. Norwich’s starting 11 shouldn’t look too different from the side that beat the Swans, and all eyes will be fixated on their starlet, Anthony Pilkington. The English-born, Republic of Ireland U21 international has been impressive in his first season with the Canaries after transferring from Huddersfield in the summer for £2 million, scoring three goals in seven appearances. Norwich are also without their regular center-back pairing of Elliott Ward and Texas born, former Liverpool player, Zak Whitbread.
Paul Lambert’s side will need to be in top form to get past the strengthened Liverpool defense, which could have Glen Johnson, and Daniel Agger returning to league play after extended periods in the stands due to injury.
If Liverpool’s wings can hold off Norwich, the Reds should be able to pull out the victory it is expected to have. However, these matches are the type that frequently give the Reds problems, so it will be interesting to see if the club can strike early and take control of the match.
Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll should lead the attack, and it will be interesting to see how the former fares after deflecting multiple claims of racist taunts by United skipper Patrice Evra last week. A goal from the Uruguayan would likely quiet his detractors, as he will need to prove he can overcome adversity.
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Liverpool v Norwich City
When: Saturday, October 22 1730 BST/1230 ET
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Table: Liverpool 5th (14 points), Norwich 8th (11 points)
Last Premier League Match: Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United, Norwich 3-1 Swansea
Projected Liverpool Starting 11: (4-4-2)
DEF: Kelly, Carragher, Agger, Jose Enrique
MF: Kuyt, Gerrard, Adam, Downing
FW: Suarez, Carroll
Subs: Jones, Coates, Skrtel, Johnson, Spearing, Henderson, Bellamy
Projected Norwich Starting 11: (4-5-1)
DEF: Martin, Barnett, Tierney, Naughton
MF: Johnson, Houlihan, Fox, Bennett, Pilkington
Subs: Rudd, De Laet, Crofts, Surman, Holt, Jackson, Wilbraham