Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nervy at Norwich (But Scott Believes)

photo by Rob!via PhotoRee

Scott looks back on the capper to a pretty good week for Liverpool....
A comfortable 2 goal lead at Carrow Road, within 10 minutes of the start, later evaporated and steamed to a pressure-cooker finish for the second week in a row. If I never again see another Liverpool player take the ball to the corner flag, it will be too soon.  The Reds held on, and maybe should have extended their lead, but due credit must be given to the Canaries who never gave up and, instead, gave their visitors cause for worry for much of the game after the initial carnage.
Raheem Sterling was, again, sterling. His first strike from distance was the kind that moves you among the elite of the game. His assist to Luis Suarez soon after was served on a silver platter, even if his winner in the second half was gilded with a lucky deflection. Still, his ability to turn and penetrate on the dribble wreaks havoc whether he is involved in a score or not and this prodigious 19-year-old has legend-in-the-making written all over him, if he stays healthy and is managed well.
Of course, it wasn't all smiles and sunshine, despite the indulging weather.  A miscue by Simon Mignolet, who has proven repeatedly shaky when coming off his line for high crosses, led directly to the first goal. Although, credit must be given for successive successful punches in the waning minutes.  Jon Flanagan had his nice moments but picked up a silly yellow for trying to delay a throw in, before staying firmly planted on the ground whilst Robert Snodgrass leapt for a Norwich second.  Glen Johnson had a couple give-aways, as did Lucas Leiva, and Mamadou Sakho has to be the scariest player out there with the ball at his feet and every opposing player seems to be aware of his propensity to get rattled.
But, in the end, as has been pointed out by others, scoring 3 goals per game will paper over some imperfections. Importantly, as imperfect of a team as they are, they are a team and playing like one in every sense of the word.  The fact that collective victory is valued above individual accomplishment was no better illustrated than when Suarez had only the ‘keeper to beat but opted to pass to a better-positioned Lucas rather than go for the goal that would have lifted him to the heights of Cristiano Ronaldo and Alan Shearer who are tied for most goals in a Premier League season (31).

Perhaps on another day Norwich City's desire and grit would have been able to overcome all 3 of Liverpool's goals. But the visiting Reds are playing for a first top league title in 24 years, a first Premier League title ever and, perhaps most importantly, a first league title ever for captain Steven Gerrard who has loyally played his whole, illustrious career at Anfield, spurning advances from big money clubs like Chelsea and Real Madrid. You just know Jamie Carragher is wistfully eying his barely dusty boots hanging on the wall.
With both Manchester City and Chelsea dropping points to Sunderland in the last week, the stars seem to being pulled into place by the collective will of the red part of Liverpool. Even former Galactico Zinedine Zidane voiced his wish for Gerrard to put the league championship exclamation point at the end of his career.
Only three cup finals to go....

This is farlieonfootie for April 23.

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