Slow motion scenes of Adam Lallana parading shirtless with the rest of his teammates in convoy towards their open armed manager were picturesque. I’m pretty sure Hollywood producers have somewhere a script not to dissimilar to the remarkable finish to this game.
It just about topped Delia Smith’s disgusted eye roll after Norwich skipper Russell Martin’s horrendous back pass gifted James Milner the chance to put his side ahead, which he did. From 3-1 up to 3-4 down for the home side.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have Adam Lallana to thank for somewhat temporarily disguising the side’s shambolic defensive display at Carrow Road on Saturday.
As for Alex Neil, his Norwich side had to immediately face up to their own defensive mishaps as they relinquished a 3-1 lead, falling to a 4-5 defeat in the dying embers of the game.
Yet another exhilarating Premier League matchup and yet another great advert for the top tier of English football. Fans will be grateful for both team’s nonexistent defending as they were treated to a nine goal thriller.
I can imagine there were a few sore heads amongst Liverpool fans after an evening of celebrations reminiscent of Klopp’s touchline antics when the winning effort went in. A rare assist and goal for Adam Lallana would have been enough to send the hearts of fans racing, let alone Klopp’s excitement.
The manager’s wild celebrations with the players granted him even more respect and admiration from supporters, although he did pay the price when Christian Benteke ensured he must now live up to an even heftier price tag as he smashed the German’s glasses in the process.
Klopp’s reaction was everything Liverpool fans want to see in a manager. Passion and appreciation. Judging by his anger when Sebastian Bassong made it 4-4 in the 92nd minute, the Liverpool players will be counting their blessings that they were able to pull out a win and avoid a huge telling off from their manager.
The win certainly overshadowed the performance. Liverpool were poor for large periods of the game, and were given a helping hand by some equally useless Norwich defending. Once again, it came down to simple mistakes that allowed Norwich to score as many as they did.
Unsurprisingly, it was two balls into the box that resulted in two of the goals for Alex Neil’s Canaries. It is beyond me how Dieumerci Mbokani was allowed to bring the ball down in the box before back heeling past Simon Mignolet to make it 1-1. What doesn’t come as a shock is how painful it was to watch the Liverpool players try and clear the ball in the first place.
While speaking of balls into the box, it is worth noting that Norwich’s fourth goal came after Liverpool failed to clear from a lofted free kick, given away by Christian Benteke may I say, before Bassong rifled home for his first goal in three years.
In terms of the other two goals Liverpool conceded, both can be put down as avoidable. For a goalkeeper supposedly known for his shot stopping, Simon Mignolet should have done so much better with Steven Naismith’s goal. The way Emre Can and Jordan Ibe let Naismith run off of them to get into the box looked as though they were admitting defeat to an inevitable debut goal for the Scot, who also previously scored his first goal for Everton against the Reds.
Alberto Moreno’s two ridiculous challenges on Naismith in the space of two seconds, one of which gave away the penalty, marked a moment of madness. Having said this, all Liverpool fans will know that nine times out of ten, Moreno executes that first slide tackle from behind. We see him try it so regularly and, to be fair to him, it comes off more often than not. The bottom line is, it didn’t. Maybe he wasn’t designed to be a defender after all?
Liverpool’s five goals stole the spotlight. Roberto Firmino was Liverpool’s best player and continued his good run with another brace and an assist. He is really starting to settle in and just needs to add more aggression and energy to his game to make himself a player to be feared. Lallana was also an obvious stand out player, making a significant impact when he came on in the second half.
From Norwich’s point of view, Naismith looks like he’ll turn out to be a crucial signing for them as they push to stay in the Premier League. His experience, creativity and conviction in front of goal will go a long way towards helping the team.
The team’s main strengths were down the flanks which is something they need to build on. Norwich have to use Nathan Redmond’s pace and Robbie Brady’s crossing as much as possible. Wes Hoolahan didn’t have the best game, which is why they often failed to link midfield and attack quickly.
The worry will be how open they left themselves at the back. Alex Neil opted for a fairly offensive central midfield set up with Jonny Howson, Graham Dorrans and Hoolahan- all of which offered the back four little protection. They are missing Alex Tettey and might look to bring in another holding midfielder before the transfer window closes.
New full back Ivo Pinto will also need to adjust to Premier League life quickly. The right back looked a threat going forward but found himself out of position on more than one occasion when defending. Defensive responsibilities have to come first for him at the moment otherwise he risks leaving his central defenders exposed.
It will be a worry for both sides that they conceded as many goals as they did. Liverpool leaked goals that could have been so easily prevented and will be fully aware of the need to improve the way they deal with crosses into the box. It is a little more difficult for Norwich though. They were caught out of position time and time again and looked fragile every time the likes of Firmino and Jordan Ibe ran at them.
Aside from the defending, this was a contender for game of the season. It was three points that will give Liverpool some much needed confidence and it could be a loss that wakes up Norwich as they battle to avoid the drop.