FA Cup Match Review: Liverpool 5–2 Norwich

  • LFC Toronto Fans at The Elephant & Castle Pub, Toronto

FA Cup Match Review: Liverpool 5–2 Norwich

The events surrounding this FA Cup 4th Round fixture have been, to say the least, incredibly topsy-turvy.

What was perceivably a not-so-high-profile tie against a Championship side, was suddenly upstaged by the big Friday announcement that Jurgen Klopp will step down as Liverpool manager at the end of this season. (More of that in our separate blog).

For a couple of days, the build-up to the game was eclipsed by the shocking news.

However, after this emphatic win against Norwich, talks of events on the pitch thankfully took back their rightful place, much to the avowed wishes of Klopp himself.

A thoroughly professional display by the Redmen to book a spot in the next round against Southampton or Watford ensured that togues will now be wagging about the footballing action and players' performance.

At least for the next few days as the long emotional goodbye to the German has now officially been kicked off.

Liverpool quickly set the tone for a one-way game against the Canaries in the first 10 minutes.

Joe Gomez now looks to have made it his personal mission to score his first Liverpool goal while Klopp is still manager.

His on-target shot from 20 yards out in the 5th minute was tipped into a corner by Norwich keeper George Long who would still have a very busy Sunday afternoon ahead of him.

Five minutes later, Darwin Nunez hit the post with a right-footed curler from practically the same spot as Gomez.

Those harbingers inevitably led Liverpool to open the score on the 16th with Curtis Jones heading the ball around the Norwich keeper from a sublime right cross by Liverpool Academy lad and first-time starter James McConnell.

Such was the quality of the cross that the facial expression of Trent Alexander-Arnold on the bench hinted a big nod of approval. Or was it the 25-year-old Trent was already seeing competition coming from the even younger generation?

Short-lived scare

From this point on, thoughts of Liverpool would be flying lasted only 6 minutes as Norwich equalized against all expectations. Defender Ben Gibson flicked the ball past Alisson Becker from the near post on a corner.

But that would be the only short-lived blot on the copybook. Nunez himself made amends for hitting the post earlier.

A goal-kick from Long on the 28th was intercepted by Conor Bradley, the other Academy lad on the pitch.

Bradley did all the hard work on the right channel before crossing to Nunez who slotted in to finish the brilliant move.

From then, there was no looking back for Liverpool who came close to extending the lead on several occasions during the rest of the first half.

On the 31st , Cody Gakpo was unfortunate to put the ball just wide from another Bradley cutback assist. Moments later, fellow Dutchman Ryan Gravenberch’s on-target attempt was cleared off the line.

Extending the lead finally came in the early second half with a poacher goal by who else than Diogo Jota.

Gibson made a real mess of clearing a long Curtis Jones pass and Jota was on hand to pounce with a left-footed blast into the Kop-end net.

With Liverpool now in cruise control and with an eye on the upcoming difficult EPL fixtures against Chelsea and Arsenal, Klopp rang on three changes as early as the 55th minute.

Finally settling it

As it has often been the case during recent games, those subs combined to score. Eight minutes after coming on, Virgil Van Dijk was given all the space in the world to thump in a free header from a corner by fellow sub, Dominik Szoboszlai.

At 4-1, it appeared done and dusted. But Norwich still did not give up and their newly introduced striker Borja Sainz put the ball at the back of the net in the 68th min, only for the attempt to be chalked off for offside.

But that was only a warning for the next minute as the Spanish forward successfully put one past Ali for Norwich’s second goal. In all fairness, it was a peach of a strike from some 25 yards out which even drew applause from the Kop.

It was then Liverpool took back total control of the proceedings for the remaining 20 minutes with attempts from Jota, Gravenberch, Szoboszlai, and Trent all saved by Geroge Long who effectively limited a more damaging scoreline to his team.

Finally, it was time for the Reds to put the nail in the coffin with the last kick of the match. Gravenberch at long last got his reward with a header for Liverpool’s 5th goal from yet another Bradley right cross.

If there was one big takeaway from this encounter, it would be how the Academy lads Bradley and McConnell announced themselves to the world.

Moreover, another Academy product Jarell Quansah seamlessly went about with the business of being Iboue Konaté partner and then VVD’s in central defence.

If Liverpool’s youth system continues to churn out very able players of such caliber, there is no reason to be pessimistic about the club’s future as we see youngsters successfully stepping in for first-team members who become unavailable for whatever reason.

Perhaps that’s a major part of the platform built with the club’s future in mind that Klopp was referring to during his stepping-down announcement last Friday.

Hopefully, the upcoming change in management at the club will be equally seamless.

Mike Chung.