An unconcerned Brendan Rodgers will take his Liverpool side to Norwich City still searching for his first league win. A return of zero wins and just two points has seen the Reds suffer their worst start to a season since 1903 however the former Swansea manager is taking it all in his stride, “Every game is important, but we’ve got 99 points to play for. There’s a hell of a long way to go,” he said.
Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Wisdom, Skrtel, Agger, Sahin, Allen, Gerrard, Sterling, Suso, Suarez.
Subs: Jones, Carragher, Henderson, Downing, Assaidi, Coates, Borini.
“Our first five games, performance-wise, have been good. We haven’t got the points that we really wanted in the games, or even deserved in the games.
The statistics don’t tell the full picture as Liverpool have had to play Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City in that opening set not to mention being in the process of adopting a new footballing philosophy. The signs are that a win is just around the corner and were it not for bad luck and some individual errors the first three points of the season would already be on the board.
A midweek Capital one win over a strong West Bromwich side was a first domestic win for the Reds under Rodgers and they will be hoping to push on in the league at Carrow Road on Saturday.
Norwich meanwhile has endured a similar start to Liverpool although they can at least claim to have one more point than the Reds. Chris Hughton’s side have been stronger in front of their home fans with just one goal conceded at Carrow Road.
Draws with West Ham and QPR at home coupled with a point at White Hart Lane have helped ease the pain of the horror show at Craven Cottage on the opening day of the season in their 5-0 loss to Fulham.
Last weekend’s 1-0 loss away to Newcastle just the third goal they had conceded since the Fulham match although it’s in front of goal where their troubles lie with just two goals to their credit so far this season.
Like Liverpool, Norwich claimed their first domestic win of the season midweek with a narrow 1-0 win over Doncaster and Hughton will be hoping that win kick starts his Carrow Road reign.
Norwich are sweating on the fitness of Sebastian Bassong after he pulled up with a tight hamstring in last weekend’s loss to Newcastle while Simon Lappin and Steven Whittaker are both out injured. Should Bassong fail to make it then Michael Turner will come into the side.
Elliott Bennett is back in contention following a knee injury and he could feature after appearing in the midweek clash with Doncaster while Anthony Pilkington could also return after missing the last two games.
Liverpool, already without the services of long term absentee Lucas, will also be without Daniel Agger, Fabio Borini and Martin Kelly, all of whom were injured in the 2-1 loss to Manchester United.
Jonjo Shelvey is also out following his dismissal in last Sunday’s clash while Joe Cole is still not fit leaving Liverpool’s already wafer thin squad down to the bare bones.
The loss of Kelly should mean a return to the starting XI for Jose Enrique with Glen Johnson reverting to a more familiar right back role while Sebastian Coates and Jaime Carragher are both vying to replace Agger with the Uruguayan favourite to win that race.
Joe Allen and Steven Gerrard are both set to return after missing the midweek win over WBA and they could have a new midfield partner in the shape of Nuri Sahin following his impressive two goal display in the Capital one cup.
Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling will be joined up front by either Stewart Downing or the exciting Oussama Assaidi
The clash will be an intriguing affair with Hughton’s favoured 4-4-2 up against Rodgers 4-3-3 system.
The midfield battle between Gerrard and Jonny Howson will be interesting as will the clash between the hard working pair of wingers Richard Snodgrass and Pilkington with Johnson and Enrique. The pair should ensure that the Liverpool full backs attacking instincts are stifled somewhat.
Up front Steve Morison will prove a handful for Martin Skrtel and Coates although Liverpool fans not to mention Norwich fans will remember Luis Suarez performance at Carrow Road last season and if the forward can replicate that performance than a first three points of the season could be on the cards.
Liverpool to win it 2-1
With Anthony Pilkington set to start and Wes Hoolahan set for the bench there should be plenty of Irish Interest. Hoolahan started last weekend’s loss to Newcastle however the signs are that Simone Jackson will be the man to partner Morison on Saturday. Pilkington meanwhile has missed hte last two games but should start on the left.