The key battles City must edge to plot Liverpool shock
PUBLISHED: 06:05 14 February 2020
Liverpool look a cut above the rest of the Premier League. But can Norwich City cause them any problems? Paddy Davitt ponders some of the defining skirmishes in store at Carrow Road.
Tim Krul v Alisson Becker
Krul was kept busy at Liverpool on the opening night and but for his defiance the final margin of defeat would have been even heavier. Alas, that has set the tone for the most part with the Dutchman emerging as one of the more reliable performers for the bottom club. Krul has proved a wonderful signing since arriving on a free transfer.
Good with the ball at his feet and comfortable with the demands Daniel Farke places on his goalkeeper. Calming influence on a young backline.
Becker is officially ranked Fifa's best current goalkeeper and was named Champions League keeper of the season during the Reds' march to a sixth crown. Proved his class in this season's triumphant Club World Cup bid. Massive presence at the back.
Not a flamboyant keeper but an excellent shot stopper, another who is comfortable with the ball at his feet and he has conceded only eighth top flight goals this season; including nine clean sheets in the last 10 Premier League games.
Max Aarons v Andy Robertson
The Norwich youngster recently cited Robinson as the best attacking full-back in the Premier League. That should ensure he will come into close contact with the marauding left back at Carrow Road. Aarons has come back strongly after some testing games before Christmas.
At Anfield his positioning was found wanting, when Divock Origi cut inside to despatch Trent Alexander-Arnold's cutting cross.
But if Aarons can push Robertson in the opposite direction then his natural attacking instincts could also aid City's bid to cause a major upset.
Sam Byram v Trent Alexander-Arnold
Byram without question has proved Norwich's best piece of recruitment since promotion was sealed from the Championship. Comfortable on either flank, he also proved in that landmark win over Manchester City he is not going to be fazed by facing Liverpool's star names.
On that occasion he mastered Raheem Sterling. Tigerish in the tackle, perhaps under-rated in possession, and an attacking threat in the opposition box, even if that first goal for Norwich remains elusive.
Both flanks could hold the key.
Liverpool's duo work in tandem as attacking pivots. Alexander-Arnold is a thoroughbred.
A player mooted with eventually settling into a midfield role. The youngest player to appear in two consecutive Champions League finals underlines his pedigree. Still only 21 but already with 80 Premier League appearances to his name, the Reds' defender is rightly touted as one of the finest talents in the country.
Ben Godfrey v Roberto Firmino
City's centre back emerged with huge credit from his first brush with the Premier League on a landmark night at Anfield. Norwich's backline may have buckled in a first half blitz, but Godfrey produced a mature display following the interval, accepting responsibility and in particular patrolling his near post to good effect.
The athletic ability is not in doubt but there are inevitable questions over some of his decision-making, after the recent three-game ban for a lunge on Callum Wilson. The speed he returned to the ranks last month after injury underlines how important he is to Daniel Farke.
Frimino's compatriot, Kaka, labelled him the best striker in the world this week along with Luis Suarez.
The Uruguayan mercilessly inflicted damage on the Canaries in Premier League battles past.
Firmino's game is far more rounded.
Do not measure his impact simply in goals, although 10 in 36 is a decent ratio, but his intelligence and ability to find pockets of space and bring the likes of Sadio Mane or Mo Salah into play is a crucial facet of Liverpool's attacking arsenal. When he is not on the pitch they look nowhere near as effective.
Alex Tettey v Jordan Henderson
Fresh from signing a new one-year deal, Tettey genuinely is a renaissance man under Farke. To go from the periphery to a vital part of his midfield mix, and someone the club believe is still performing at a level worthy of extending his Carrow Road stay, is a testament to his staying power.
Tettey is more than a combative presence with a well-developed sense of danger. He has taken on more responsibility with his passing to knit the play. A goal or two would not go amiss but particularly with the departure of Ibrahim Amadou and the signing and then loan of Melvin Sitti, right now he remains a unique option in central midfield.
Henderson is another who perhaps leaves the limelight and the headlines to others but is an indispensable cog in this Liverpool machine.
An experienced campaigner who might be underrated by those outside his club but in the biggest games is someone Jurgen Klopp can rely on to deliver.
He understands his role in the Reds' midfield and provides the insurance alongside Gio Wijnaldum and Fabinho to allow the attacking spearhead to sparkle.
Jurgen Klopp v Daniel Farke
Heavy metal meets classical music. That was one of the questions put to Farke ahead of the opening night Anfield duel.
In truth, neither description is entirely accurate. Klopp has adapted his approach since those high octane, 'gegenpressing' Dortmund days. Liverpool are much more economical in their attacking thrust and far better set-up, in terms of defensive protection.
Farke may favour cultured, midfield craft but he also has a pragmatic side; seen most notably in the way he plotted Manchester City's downfall with slim amounts of possession and territory.