Norwich City haven't won at Anfield since Jeremy Goss scored the last goal in front of the Kop at the tail end of the 1993/94 season. It was a well-deserved 1-0 victory for the Canaries: Steve Nicol hooked the ball against his own bar on 15 minutes, Jeremy Goss hammered home the only goal of the game at the Kop end on 35, Efan Ekoku missed a one-on-one with David James just before half time, and Bryan Gunn became the last keeper to shut Liverpool out in front of their famous old terrace, Rob Jones putting the ball past him only to see his shot cleared off the line. "You're supposed to let us win," was the Kop's dry response, as a Liverpool team featuring Ian Rush, John Barnes, Ronnie Whelan, Robbie Fowler and, er, Julian Dicks flailed around helplessly.
City's recent record at Anfield isn't otherwise much to write home about. A 3-0 loss in 2004. A 4-0 defeat in 1995. A 4-1 tonking in 1992. Losses of 3-0 and 2-1 in 1991. A 3-1 FA Cup defeat in 1990. And then you're into the Eighties, which featured whippings of 6-2, 5-0 and 4-0, a couple of goalless draws - and a 1-0 win for the Canaries in December 1988, a season which saw Liverpool lose the league on goal difference. Slim pickings, then, but when Norwich win, Liverpool certainly feel the reverberations.
All of that, of course, has little bearing on reality today. I don't know why I mentioned it.
More pertinent, of course, is the recent form. Liverpool are unbeaten since that shellacking at Spurs a month ago, and looked promising in patches against Manchester United last time round. Norwich meanwhile have been properly impressive: a run of three wins in four, plus a defeat at Old Trafford which, had the ball bounced another way, could easily have been a victory. United, being the champions, are a fair enough litmus test: both teams will fancy their chances here. "We'll give it a go," says Norwich boss Paul Lambert. His opposite number Kenny Dalglish will doubtless have a similar mindset, so hopefully we'll have a decent game on our hands here. Entertainment, please!
Kick off: 5.30pm.
Liverpool replace Martin Kelly with the returning Glen Johnson: Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Jose Enrique, Kuyt, Gerrard, Adam, Downing, Suarez, Bellamy.
Subs: Doni, Agger, Carroll, Maxi, Henderson, Spearing, Flanagan.
Norwich City name an unchanged side: Ruddy, Naughton, Barnett, Russell Martin, Tierney, Bennett, Fox, Johnson, Pilkington, Hoolahan, Morison.
Subs: Rudd, Crofts, Holt, Jackson, Surman, Wilbraham, De Laet.
Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)
OLD-SCHOOL SONGBOOK PT 1. Hurrah for the Reds (1907): Hurrah for the boys to play the game / Hurrah for the Reds! / Hurrah for the boys there's none can tame / Hurrah for the Reds! / There's Hewitt and Mac to lead the attack / With Hardy to hold the fort, boys / There's Goddard and Cox, and Raisbeck the fox / And more of the good old sort, boys / Hurrah Hurrah Hurrah Hurrah / Hurrah for the Reds!
OLD-SCHOOL SONGBOOK PT 2. On the Ball, City (1902): Kick off, throw in, have a little scrimmage / Keep it low, a splendid rush, bravo, win or die / On the ball, City, never mind the danger / Steady on, now's your chance / Hurrah! We've scored a goal!
The teams are out! Liverpool are wearing their trademark all-red outfit, Norwich their equally distinguishing yellow shirts and green shorts. It's a crisp, dry evening at Anfield. "Am delighted to see Bellamy start up front today (first time in the league this year, I believe)," writes David Horn. "I can't think of two forwards more likely to annoy opponents, referees, managers, grannies, or anybody, anywhere at any time over the last 20 years, than these two. If there has been a more obnoxious strike partnership since the Premiership began, I'd like to hear of it."
A massive mosaic displayed on the Kop: Justice for the 96. Then the cards flip down in time for kick off. Liverpool get the ball rolling, and they'll be kicking towards the Kop in this first half, never their preference.
2 min: The returning Glen Johnson has already seen plenty of the ball down the right. His incessant probing finds Suarez, who wins a corner. Adam sends a flat ball towards the near post, Skrtel glancing a header off the bar. Norwich clear, but only out for a corner on the other side. Suarez tries to meet the set piece, coming in from the left, but Norwich clear again. A strong start by the home side.
5 min: A throw-in for Liverpool down the left. Suarez takes up possession with his back to goal, on the corner of the box. He whips round through 180 degrees in an instant, a split-second turn, flummoxing Barnett. He's clear on goal, albeit at an angle down the inside-left channel, but shoots wide left. A world-class turn, a dunce-class miss. Liverpool could easily be two goals up already.
7 min: A long ball down the inside-left channel by Gerrard finds Suarez, who turns again on the edge of the area. Once more Barnett is all at sea, but this time he recovers well before Suarez can break clear, and gets a clearing challenge in. Liverpool have started very strongly here - but then they've a habit of doing this, only to fall away as the game progresses.
8 min: Johnson skitters down the inside-right channel, into the area, and sends a low cross into the middle towards Suarez. Martin slides in to intercept. Norwich are struggling to keep hold of the ball, and Liverpool are relentless in returning it down their end of the pitch.
10 min: Pilkington looks a real handful down the left. He's this close to diddling Johnson with a clever back heel and turn, but the full back stands firm and wins a goal kick.
11 min: What a goal this would have been. Adam sprays a long ball down the left for Bellamy, who takes it in his stride at full pelt, reaches the byline, and cuts a low ball back into the centre for Suarez. The striker, level with the left-hand post, opens his body and hits a first-time sidefoot at high pace towards goal. Ruddy manages to get fingertips to it, though, and diverts the ball onto the right-hand post and out. Downing picks up the ball, but panics and snatches a dismal shot miles wide right.
14 min: Adam bustles inside from the right and feeds Suarez, who tries to chip Ruddy from 25 yards. Now now. The keeper's behind it all the way, and the ball floats over the bar in any case.
16 min: Skrtl Bcknbrs upfield and finds Downing down the right. The winger cuts inside and tries to find Suarez on the far post, but the cross is too high. Suddenly Norwich hit a long ball upfield, and Hoolahan is clear down the inside-left channel! After all that Liverpool pressure, is this a sucker punch? No: Hoolahan gets his effort on target at the near post, but Reina parries clear with his chest. What an open game this is.
17 min: Level with the right-hand post, Suarez turns and drags a shot across the face of goal, the ball sailing just wide right. This is breathless.
18 min: Tierney swings a ball across the edge of the Liverpool area from deep on the left; Morison can't direct the ball goalwards.
19 min: No chance at either end for nearly 40 seconds now.
21 min: Norwich ping the ball around hither and yon. They must have put nearly 20 passes together then. They slowly edge up the pitch, Bennett finally swinging a cross into the Liverpool area from the right; with Pilkington making a nuisance of himself at the far post, the Carragher is forced to concede a corner on the left. Which Morison meets, eight yards out, level with the far post, arrowing the ball towards the top right. Reina is behind it all the way to claim. That was delightful play from Norwich, who appear to be settling now.
23 min: Bennett rides a couple of tackles in the centre, just outside the area, and slaps a shot goalwards. Norwich are right in this game now.
24 min: Up the other end, Gerrard tries to free Suarez down the inside-right channel, but just as the striker looks to control and shoot from just inside the area, Barnett slides over to clear.
26 min: The passes aren't quite sticking for Liverpool now. First Kuyt puts a stop to his own player's gallop, rolling a dreadful pass behind a flying Bellamy down the left. Then Adam hits a ball far too strongly down the right for Johnson, who had room in which to scamper. The crowd haven't got anxious yet, but Anfield has seen sweet starts turn sour on more than one occasion this season already. Norwich will be pleased with their efforts in the last ten minutes; they're certainly seeing more of the ball.
29 min: Liverpool are showing their first signs of frustration. First an over-eager Bellamy needlessly gets himself flagged offside when presented with a pass in acres down the left, then Kuyt goes ballistic at the linesman when narrowly caught ahead of play himself.
31 min: Jose Enrique tries to find Bellamy down the left. Barnett slides the ball out for a corner. Bellamy's dead ball is met by the head of Kuyt at the near post, but easily cleared. Liverpool haven't started playing badly, but their sparkle has disappeared.
34 min: Tierney is booked for clipping Downing's ankles, a couple of yards outside the Norwich area on the right. The free kick's in a very dangerous position. Downing tries to pass it into the left-hand corner, but only finds the wall. He bangs the rebound as hard as he can, but only into a thicket of yellow shirts again. Eventually the ball's swung in from the right by man-of-the-minute Downing, but it floats over the bar.
36 min: Another corner for Liverpool, Downing winning it down the right. He takes the set piece himself, Johnson winning a header but sending it high into the Kop.
37 min: Suarez slashes a shot from a tight angle on the left straight across goal. Before a red shirt can poke home, Martin hacks clear. Liverpool have stepped it up a bit again, without looking as quite dangerous as they were during the opening 20 minutes. "There are stats for everything these days," writes Gary Naylor, "so does anyone know if there is a midfielder in the PL who gives the opposition possession more often than Steven Gerrard?"
40 min: Downing finds a yard down the right, and stands a ball up to the far post for Suarez, who gets no power behind his close-range header. As Ruddy casually plucks the ball from the air, Suarez decides to take out his frustration on the goalframe, which he nearly demolishes with a massive hoof to the left-hand post.
42 min: Bellamy, who's been quiet of late, cuts inside from the left and sends a shot into the top-right corner. Of the Kop. Anfield is fairly quiet at the moment.
43 min: Hoolahan frees Morison down the inside-left channel. Carragher comes across for a one-on-one battle. Morison lays the ball back for Hoolahan, whose cross from the left wing balloons off Carragher's back. Nothing comes of the resulting corner. "Can we take it that wily old 'King Kenny' thinks he's tricking Norwich by playing the decidedly one-footed lefty Downing on the right wing?" asks Alix Sharkey. "Or is he trying to confuse them by posing the question 'Why is Downing on the pitch at all?'"
45 min: Suarez and Gerrard try to unpick the Norwich defence at close range on the edge of the away team's box, but they're playing too close together and the backflicks don't come off. There will be one minute of added time. And in it...
45 min +1: GOAL!!! Liverpool 1-0 Norwich City. A long ball down the inside-left channel. There's a kerfuffle under it involving Suarez and Martin, and the ball breaks free for Bellamy, who cuts in from the wing and slips the ball home, albeit with the help of a big deflection off the despairing Tierney.
HALF TIME: Liverpool 1-0 Norwich City. Harsh timing on Norwich, who have defended staunchly, and caused bother up front a couple of times as well, but on balance Liverpool deserve to take the lead in with them at the interval.
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We are, dear ladies and gentlemen, off again. Norwich will be kicking towards the Kop. Liverpool are hoicking it down to the Anfield Road end, much to their chagrin. The visitors set the ball rolling.
47 min: A looped pass down the Norwich left. Morison brings it down and feeds it inside for Pilkington, who hammers a low shot goalwards. It's very decently struck, but straight down Reina's throat. Seconds later, Pilkington bursts down the left and takes the ball out of play, but looked for a second like breaking into a shooting position. A good start to the half, this, for the visitors.
50 min: Norwich are enjoying the lion's share of possession at present. Morison swaggers down the left, but can't quite keep the ball under control and runs it out of play. Liverpool are yet to arrive for the second half.
51 min: And then suddenly Suarez bursts into action, nutmegging Barnett on the edge of the area and toe-poking towards the bottom-right corner. Martin sticks out a leg and deflects the shot back across goal and off the left-hand post. Norwich clear. Suarez looks pained, the second time he's seen a shot deflected onto the woodwork.
54 min: Suarez tears past Martin down the inside-right channel. A heavy touch sends him to the byline, and his ball dinked back towards Kuyt is intercepted and cleared.
55 min: A sudden burst from Gerrard, straight down the middle, then drifting slightly left after a one-two with Kuyt, sets him up for a shot from just inside the box. He looks to place the ball in the bottom right, but there's no power in the shot, and Ruddy peels it off the turf.
57 min: A first change for Norwich: Holt replaces Bennett. "Kuyt has been a wonderful worker for Liverpool," begins Phil Sawyer, "but the lightning fast turns by Suarez really do show up just how slow he is. He has the turning circle of an articulated lorry."
59 min: Fox hits a majestic rising drive towards the Liverpool goal from 30 yards. Reina is behind it, but that was swerving around all over the shop. That was the culmination of a dangerous passage of play from Norwich, Hoolahan nearly releasing Holt down the left with a slide-rule pass.
60 min: GOAL!!! Liverpool 1-1 Norwich City. From the right, Pilkington curls a wonderful cross across the face of the Liverpool six-yard box. Reina comes out and flaps, and collides into Carragher and Johnson, who are Keystone Kopping in front of the Kop. Holt gets in ahead of them all, and crashes a header into the empty net. What a substitution!
63 min: Liverpool look shocked. Beyond shocked. They're running around like headless chickens. That goal hadn't been coming, exactly, but Norwich had looked dangerous on occasion during this half.
65 min: Pilkington, out left, crosses to the far post for Holt. The substitute crashes another header goalwards, but this one is parried by Reina then headed clear by Skrtel. Liverpool are all over the shop now, Norwich very much on the front foot. Holt should probably have scored; in truth, that goes down as a miss.
67 min: From the byline to the right of goal, Suarez rolls the ball back to Downing, who takes a touch and sees his shot blocked. Very ponderous. By comparison, seconds later, Suarez turns adroitly down the inside-left channel and sends an instant low shot towards the bottom left corner, Ruddy palming the ball past his post. The corner's wasted, but that's better from Liverpool. Better, specifically, from Suarez, who is relentless.
68 min: Bellamy is replaced by Henderson.
72 min: Hoolahan latches onto a loose ball 30 yards from the Liverpool goal, and attempts to Goss it into the Kop net. The effort's high and wide left. Meanwhile, Justin Horton's cliché-o-meter™ is ringing away like billy-o. "Have you ever seen a headless chicken?" he asks. "I saw one on the street in my village a few weeks ago. I tell you what, it wasn't running around."
75 min: Norwich are the better side now. Comfortably. Anfield is as quiet as a mouse. [Note for Justin Horton: mice are quite quiet.]
78 min: Barnett stumbles on the ball in the area. What a gift. Suarez rounds him on the right, and hits a low shot from a tight angle across goal. Ruddy fingertips wide left. The corner's a waste of everyone's time.
80 min: Here's the big man, then. Andy Carroll replaces Stewart Downing. "Now I see Dalglish's plan," writes Alix Sharkey. "He wanted to prove that Downing was equally useless either side of the pitch."
81 min: There we are, then, a high ball into the Liverpool area towards Carroll. He barges Martin out of the way and heads down to Suarez, who pokes wide right from close range. Suarez was offside, though, so the miss mattered not.
83 min: Pilkington, cutting inside from the left, runs onto a Morison pass and sidefoots goalwards. It's a decent effort, but blocked by Johnson. The corner? Not worth my time describing it, or yours reading it.
85 min: A barnstorming run by Adam down the left ends in a ludicrous shout for a penalty as he enters the area and clatters into Barnett. Equally ludicrously is the referee's decision to award Norwich a free kick. Norwich were in possession anyway. Could everyone not just play on? Players are allowed to fall over.
88 min: Naughton and Holt cause an awful lot of bother in front of the Liverpool box. Holt takes a low slap at the ball; the shot is blocked. Naughton swings a cross in from the right looking for Pilkington; Johnson heads clear. This has been a brilliant half of football from Norwich, who have been very impressive indeed.
90 min: Kuyt finds Carroll with a deep cross from the left; Carroll wins the header but hasn't a clue where the ball's dropped. A few seconds on, Johnson welts a totally useless shot miles into the top of the Anfield Road end from 30-odd yards.
90 min +1: In the first of four minutes of injury time, Agger replaces Kuyt. Anfield is in a silent funk. Apart from the Norwich end, obviously.
90 min +2: Under a simple high ball from the right, Ruddy lets the ball slip through his hands. Time that would be eaten up will now be spent by Norwich defending a corner. Meanwhile Pilkington is replaced by Crofts.
90 min +3: What a miss by Andy Carroll. Gerrard swings a ball in from the right, Carroll directing a dreadful effort wide right from point-blank range. That was appalling.
FULL TIME: Liverpool 1-1 Norwich City. The ball's lifted into the Norwich area. Suarez connects sweetly, sending a delicious volley goalwards. But Ruddy's save is even better, the ball tipped over the bar. It's the last meaningful action of the game, securing Norwich a deserved point: their second-half display was as good (in a different way, granted) as Liverpool's first-half efforts. It's more dropped points for Liverpool at Anfield: three draws and only two wins now. They're still in fifth, but that Champions League spot looks quite far away at the moment. Meanwhile Norwich move up into seventh, only two points behind Liverpool.