Monday, October 01, 2012

Match Report: Norwich 2 - 5 Liverpool

Luis Suarez scored his second hat-trick at Carrow Road in the space of five months as Liverpool crushed a sorry Norwich to record their first Barclays Premier League win under Brendan Rodgers.

Suarez scored a memorable treble on his last visit to Carrow in April and he took just 67 seconds to open his account in Norfolk this season, scoring from the edge of the box to make it 1-0.

He then capitalized on a terrible mistake by Michael Turner to make it 2-0 before laying on Nuri Sahin, who made it 3-0 just after the break.

The former PSV Eindhoven forward then took his tally for the season to six when he curled home from the edge of the box and Steven Gerrard scored Liverpool's fifth after Steve Morison had pulled one back for Norwich.

Substitute Grant Holt overpowered his marker to score another consolation for Norwich with three minutes to go, but there was no doubt who the bossed the game at the final whistle, as the home fans booed their team off following a poor display.

A lot had been made of Liverpool's poor start to the season under Rodgers before Saturday's game, but the Merseysiders were a class apart at Carrow Road.

Teenage trio Raheem Sterling, Suso and Andre Wisdom all performed brilliantly and Sahin proved the perfect foil to Suarez's penetrating runs through the Norwich defence.

They played with fluency, pace and brutal finishing that will give Rodgers hope that he can deliver success at Anfield during his first term in charge.

A Liverpool rout seemed on the cards from the start. With just over a minute on the clock, Glen Johnson's through-ball was cleared only as far as Suarez and he drove home from 18 yards.

Daniel Agger headed over a free-kick as Liverpool searched for a quick second, but Norwich then stormed forward through Simeon Jackson, who drew a top-drawer reaction save from Pepe Reina at his near post.

Sterling then knocked Suarez's pin-point ball across the box but Norwich cleared just before the unmarked Sahin could pull the trigger.

Suarez was at the centre of controversy in the 23rd minute when the Uruguayan raced through after a long ball over the top and broke in to the box.

Just as the forward was about to shoot Leon Barnett barged in to back of Uruguayan and brought an elbow down on his shoulder, but referee Mike Jones waved play on despite the please of the Reds players, who were infuriated at the decision.

Suarez was involved in the action again minutes later when he played Gerrard through with a wonderful 40-yard pass but John Ruddy palmed the skipper's header away from close range.

Jackson blazed over a good chance to put Norwich back in the game and Suarez made the hosts pay.

Barely 30 seconds after shooting wide while one on one with Ruddy, the Uruguayan pinched the ball off a lazy Turner, nutmegged the defender and slotted finished from 12 yards before goading the home supporters in his celebration.

After seeing his team booed off at half-time, Chris Hughton brought on Holt and the Canaries started playing much better.

Hughton's team should have pulled one back in the 46th minute when Jackson fired a cross the box with a volley but the ball cannoned off Robert Snodgrass' knee and flew over the bar from barely two yards.

Once again Norwich were made to pay for their miss as Suarez came in off the flank and unselfishly squared to Sahin, who made it 3-0. Some Norwich fans had seen enough and left even though the game was only 56 minutes old.

Andrew Surman blazed a terrible shot wide and almost predictably Liverpool went down the other end and scored.

Norwich foolishly stood off Suarez and he curled a brilliant finished wide of the outstretched Ruddy to complete his hat-trick.

The Canaries restored some pride soon after when Reina spilled Russell Martin's shot in to the path of Morison and he calmly swept home.

Liverpool underlined their dominance with little over 20 minutes left when Sterling took advantage of a slip by Javier Garrido to square for Gerrard, who scored thanks to a big deflection off Barnett that wrong-footed Ruddy.

Suarez almost bagged his fourth four minutes later when he latched on to Gerrard's pass down the left wing, but the forward could only find the side-netting.

The away fans sung the names of Suarez and Rodgers in the dying minutes, clearly delighted at their team's first win of the season.

The home fans, meanwhile, vented their frustration by booing their team off as their winless run under Hughton continued.

Rodgers Hails Luis Master Class

Brendan Rodgers paid tribute to a striking master class from Luis Suarez after the Uruguayan struck a hat-trick to help Liverpool to their first league win of the season against Norwich at Carrow Road.

Suarez repeated his heroics of last season's corresponding fixture by netting a treble before the hour-mark, becoming the first player in the Reds' history to net hat-tricks in the same away league fixture in successive campaigns.

Nuri Sahin and Steven Gerrard were also on target on a highly satisfactory afternoon for the visitors, but it will be Suarez who will undoubtedly grab Sunday's headlines.

"I remember his game last year and his goals were incredible," said Rodgers. "I've got to say, this was another master class in finishing.

"His first goal was terrific. We built it from behind and played through the lines. There was a nice combination on the edge of the box and he finished it well.

"His second one typifies him because 10 seconds earlier he missed probably his easiest chance [of the afternoon]. He doesn't get disappointed and immediately he gets back onto the ball and with an incredible piece of skill, he nutmegs the defender and finishes with the outside of his foot.

"It was a special day for him - and more importantly, a special day for the team.

"I thought the performance and how we got between the lines, and played and passed, and had relentless possession was pleasing."

The win is Liverpool's first in the Barclays Premier League during Rodgers' tenure - and the manager was keen to highlight the 'outstanding' efforts of his players at Carrow Road.

He said: "Obviously I'm very content. I'm not surprised because our performance level up to now has been very, very good - apart from one game against Arsenal, and when we went down to 10 men away at West Brom.

"I've got to say, the quality of our game and play was outstanding. I know Norwich is a wonderful club and over the past few years it's been a real difficult place to come.

"To arrive here and score five goals, and play like we did, was outstanding."

Meanwhile, journalists asked Rodgers for his thoughts on Liverpool's first-half penalty appeal which was waved away after Suarez appeared to be hauled down in the box by Norwich defender Leon Barnett.

"I thought it was a stonewall penalty," said the boss. "I feel for the guy, I've got to be honest. I think everyone in the ground knew it was a penalty.

"There is nothing we can do. I know how difficult the referee's job is. You'll never hear me criticizing referees and officials often. I want my players to respect them - and I look to respect the referees as well."

"I spoke to Mike Riley in the week and put across my concerns because it has been a trend over a number of games.

"Maybe one day we will get the decisions, but until that day we'll just continue to concentrate on our performances."

Gerrard - Miracle To Win Title

Liverpool midfielder Steven Gerrard has admitted it would be a 'miracle' if the Anfield outfit can claim the Premier League title before he hangs up his boots.

The 32-year-old England international feels that the Merseyside giants, who won the last of their 18 English titles back in 1990, have fallen behind the leading lights in the top flight in recent years, a point illustrated by their eighth-place finish last season.

New manager Brendan Rodgers was brought in over the summer to replace Kenny Dalglish and finally picked up his first league win of the new season at the sixth time of asking with a 5-2 romp against Norwich.

With the club in a transitional phase, Gerrard believes that finishing in the top four this term amid the ever-increasing competition in the Premier League and securing a return to the UEFA Champions League should be their main target.

He told the Sunday Times: "There's not just (Manchester) United and Arsenal now but City, Chelsea and Tottenham. Newcastlecoming as well. The Premier League has become a lot more difficult to win for everyone.

"We were eighth last year. If this season goes well, we get a bit of luck, improve, we have an outside, no, a 50-50 chance of being in the top four. That's being realistic. It's achievable.

"But even if we do sneak into the top four I'll be 33 at the end of the season, so that's why it'll be a miracle if we win the title before I finish.

"But I'll keep fighting. I'll keep trying and see what happens."

Gerrard has also revealed how an infection in a seemingly minor ankle injury last season threatened to bring his career to a premature conclusion, with emergency surgery required just two hours after he was eating a pre-match meal with the rest of the team prior to the clash with West Brom.

He said: "The doctor was unhappy with the colour and size and had sent the sample for tests. There was a severe infection.

"If I hadn't had the fluid out within 24 hours I wouldn't have had a cartilage. The bug would have eaten it. I'd probably have never played again, or even trained.

"In my mind, as the operation began, was, 'This could be the end'.

"I owe the doc and Chris Morgan, our physio. Last year put my career into perspective."

Liverpool To Offer Theo Walcott A New Home In January

Liverpool finally showed some proof of the major transformation in the offense with a five goal bashing of Norwich City in their Saturday September 29th match at Carrow Road in the Barclay's English Premier League.

However, there are still many things to tinker with and fix for the Reds going forward. Although Luis Suarez scored his second hat trick at the same ground in less than five months, he cannot hold the line at the Merseyside club alone.

The loan move of Andy Carroll to West Ham and the failure of Liverpool to sign an adequate replacement in the transfer window left the side with limited options going forward. The likes of Fabio Borini, Adam Morgan, and Samed Yesil are all not ready to be the permanent solution or partner of Luis Suarez.

Liverpool is believed highly likely to make a big move in the January market to add some additional firepower to the front line and ease the burden of Luis Suarez. According to the Daily Mirror, that signing could potentially be Theo Walcott of Arsenal.

The continued failure of the London club to sign him to a new deal has cast much speculation on his current place at the Emirates Stadium. With Arsene Wenger refusing to play him from the opening whistle until a deal is done the frustrations are mounting for the young England international.

Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool are believed to be set to offer Walcott an out and out striking role as part of his tenure at Anfield if he were to join the club. That is a position he has wanted for some time at Arsenal, but his pace on the right side has made him a permanent winger to Wenger.

The rotational pass and move style of the new look Liverpool could even offer Walcott more opportunities on goal from the right and thus give him all the more reason to make a move if the price is right for all parties.

Spaniard Set For Liverpool Contract Offer

Liverpool will reward emerging starlet Suso with a new contract following an impressive first-team breakthrough, reports the Liverpool Echo.

The 18-year-old Spaniard - signed by Rafa Benitez from Cadiz in 2010 - has forced his way into contention since taking his place on the pre-season tour of North America.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers handed Suso his first Premier League start in yesterday's emphatic 5-2 victory over Norwich City at Carrow Road, where the youngster turned in another assured performance.

And, with the teenager's contract set to expire next summer, talks over a new Anfield deal are already underway, with the Northern Irishman determined to keep him on Merseyside.

"The contract is something we're looking at," confirmed Rodgers. "Suso makes things happen. He is tactically very good and strong technically with the ball.

"I love that type of player. You saw that when he came on against West Brom for the goal. He took the ball out of a tight space. Talent finds space and he is a real talent.

"He worked the ball well to (Oussama) Assaidi and we got the goal. He knows he still has a lot to learn but he's a good kid."

Suso made his senior debut in the Europa League against Young Boys before impressing again when he came off the bench in the Premier League clash with Manchester United.

Liverpool Monitor Real Madrid Midfielder

Liverpool will monitor Mesut Ozil's situation at Real Madrid after the German midfielder was given a kick up the backside by manager Jose Mourinho.

The Sunday Mirror reports how the 23-year-old has not enjoyed the best of seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu, and could be allowed to leave the club at the end of the season.

Brendan Rodgers is a huge fan of Ozil, and with Liverpool having held a long-term interest in bringing him to Anfield, a move to Merseyside looks increasingly likely.

Ozil - who has 41 caps and 12 goals for Germany - is still under contract in Spain until 2016, but following the arrival of fellow playmaker Luka Modric, his future in Madrid appears increasingly uncertain.

Liverpool already has Nuri Sahin on loan from Real, and that relationship with Mourinho, could help push through negotiations between the two clubs, should Ozil become available.

The Reds tried to sign the player from Werder Bremen when he first moved to La Liga, and will hold out hope of finally landing their man.

In response to rumours that his extravagant social life is ruining his performances on the pitch, Ozil recently took to Facebook to clarify his situation.

"About the rumour I go often out at night: It's not true! Since new season started, I was almost never out. I train and work as a professional," he posted.

Liverpool Targeting Newcastle's Demba Ba

Liverpool is considering a move for Newcastle striker Demba Ba after the Magpies reportedly said they were unwilling to meet his contract demands.

According to reports the Senegalese hitman, who has a £7.5 million release clause, is seeking an increase to his £50,000-a-week contract, which Liverpool would be able to provide.

The Merseyside club beat Norwich 5-2 on Saturday but has found it tough in front of goal this season with only Fabio Borini and Luis Suarez to choose from up front.

Ba would bolster Liverpool's front line having netted an impressive six goals this term, putting him at the top of the Premier League goal scoring chart.

Newcastle are said to be unhappy with the 27-year-old's representatives and are reportedly ready to let him go and try their luck with a renewed bid for Liverpool striker Andy Caroll.

The Premier League hotshot signed for the Toon in 2011 and scored an impressive 17 goals in his first season at the club.

Ba's form suffered though when he was moved out wide to accommodate his countryman Papiss Cissé, who signed for Newcastle in January this year.

At the time Ba's agent Alex Gontran said: 'Since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, Demba doesn’t understand the management.

'If he continues to be a substitute all season we will look at other solutions.'

Rodgers Tells Stewart Downing To Fight For Future

Brendan Rodgers has told 28-year-old left winger Stewart Downing that he must fight for his shirt or lose out to young players.

Downing joined Liverpool from Aston Villa in a £20million move last summer, and has seen teenager Raheem Sterling overtake him in the pecking order.

Speaking to national newspapers he said: "Stewart is a good guy and a good lad who came here for an awful lot of money. It hasn't quite worked out for him as he would want it. The big challenge for him now is that commitment to the cause to fight, because he has the qualities.

"He has a wonderful left foot but what is important is that it is more than talent. Talent alone is not enough. You have to work hard, you have to fight for the shirt. We have seen that in a number of the young players and if you don't do that then longer-term you won't be here. It is as simple as that really."

Another man to have found chances hard to come by under Rodgers is Jose Enrique, the £6million recruit from Newcastle.

"What is important is that you have good communication. I don't waste my time waiting until January to tell both players what I know now. So they know in relation to the demands of what we want and certainly what it is going to take for us to succeed and for them to fit into the dynamics of the group," Rodgers added.

"The communication I will keep private between Stewart and I, but he is under no illusions that he has to fight."

Enrique Is No Way Unhappy

Jose Enrique is browned off with life at Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers.

But it is nothing to do with the shaky start the Anfield giants have had to their Premier League season under the new Kop boss.

For Spanish star Enrique, 26, insists on topping up his tan with regular sun bed sessions prompting a tirade of teasing jibes from his team-mates.

Yet the left-back says he is more focused on the warm glow provided by ex-Swansea chief Rodgers – and has vowed to help Liverpool get back on track.

He said: “Yes, my team-mates make a lot of jokes about me when they see me looking at my tan in the mirror but I don’t care – I would lose my tan if I didn’t go on the sun bed.”

Enrique reckons Rodgers has a tough task ahead because of less than satisfactory transfer dealings in the summer.

He said: “The turbulence in the summer is no excuse for players.

“You sign and you must play but of course it was frustrating in the summer as we let many players go and not many came in.

“Our squad has many young players. They can do well for us and we still have great players in the team and it is our mistake why we are where we are now.

“Qualifying for the Champions League would be a dream but I don’t know how long this will take.

“You have to be realistic. You see the level of Man City and Chelsea’s spending in the summer and it is going to be tough.”

And Enrique, who appears in FIFA13, believes Rodgers will continue trying to imitate Barca’s style of play.

He said: “You can’t compare to Barcelona because they are a different team. Of course we try to put their type of play in this team but it takes time.

“Players need time to understand the way to play.

“The manager wants us to play 4-4-3 and press up high but it is hard if you have not played that way.‘‘

U18s Win At Fulham

Liverpool U18s produced a superb performance to get their first win of the season with a 3-1 win at Fulham on Saturday.

Steve Cooper's side was full value for their victory and got the win courtesy of goals from Jerome Sinclair, Kristoffer Peterson and Yalany Baio.

Cooper told "The lads played very well and I am delighted for them.

"We played some great football, created lots of chances and this win has been coming.

"We have played well this season but our problem has been not putting away the chances we are creating, but today our finishing was clinical.

"It was a really positive performance and the lads have worked so hard."

Liverpool U18s team: Fulton, Quirk, Maguire, Williams, Jones, Baio, Peterson, Lussey, Sinclair, Trickett-Smith (Randall 75), Gainford.

Former Azzurri Boss Among Top Suitors For Liverpool

Liverpool is contemplating replacing their current manager Brendan Rodgers and Marcello Lippi is rumored to be one of the top candidates, as reported by the Daily Mirror.

Although the Reds would prefer Roy Hodgson, he might be unavailable should he continue to take charge of the national team.

Alongside Lippi, former Internazionale coach Rafa Benitez is also listed among the top suitors.

Liverpool has had a dismal start to their season, picking only two points from their first five games.