Norwich 4-5 Liverpool: Five talking points from Carrow Road
By Peter Smith
Last Updated: 23/01/16 5:08pm
Liverpool won a remarkable Premier League encounter with Norwich 5-4 on Saturday.
Adam Lallana proved to be the hero at Carrow Road, with a 95th-minute strike to settle the contest, after Roberto Firmino (twice), Dieumerci Mbokani, Steven Naismith, Wes Hoolahan, Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Sebastien Bassong had all got on the scoresheet.
Here, we round up five talking points from an unforgettable game…
Liverpool's incredible comeback
Life has rarely been dull for Liverpool fans since Jurgen Klopp's arrival but Saturday's win over Norwich ranks among the most dramatic games in Premier League history. The nine-goal thriller was an incredible combination of smart finishing and abject defending, coupled with never-say-die determination from both sides.
Liverpool threw away an early advantage and, at 3-1 down, their travelling support were facing a long journey home and the prospect of a Saturday afternoon spent watching their top-four rivals pull further away. However, a remarkable fightback, with skipper Jordan Henderson leading the charge, saw the Reds net three times without response.
Already a Premier League classic, the five minutes of added time - hotly contested by Klopp - took the game to a whole new level. First, Bassong rifled a stunning shot into the bottom corner, sending the home fans wild. Then - in the fifth minute of added time - Lallana latched onto a loose ball and fired into the net.
For Liverpool and Norwich, the impact of the result - the victors' first win in four, the losers' fourth-straight defeat - on their respective campaigns remains to be seen. But these wild 95 minutes will be replayed and replayed for years to come.
Liverpool's corner-kick concerns
After the jubilant celebrations, Klopp could not hide his frustration at his team's recurring struggles with set-pieces. "It's crazy what we are doing, we have to solve this problem. You don't have to create chances against us. If they don't do it, we will do it. It's really rubbish."
Specifically, Liverpool's problem is with corners. They have conceded a Premier League-high eight times from such situations. Just last week, Wayne Rooney netted Manchester United's winner from a corner at Anfield.
Goals conceded from corners - Premier League (as of 3pm, 23/01/16)
On Saturday, it was Norwich's turn to expose Liverpool's weakness. Alex Neil's side have now scored more goals from corners than any side in the division (eight) and, just as they did at Anfield in September, Norwich profited from more poor set-piece defending from Klopp's side.
Earlier this season, a smart Russell Martin lobbed volley did the damage, this time it was Mbokani with the inspired finish: a back-heel past Simon Mignolet.
On both occasions Liverpool failed to clear their lines. On Saturday, after Norwich were allowed to win two headers, Henderson's eventual clearance only reached Hoolahan on the edge of the box and the midfielder put the ball back into the mix for Mbokani to score.
Norwich's defensive nightmares go on. They've now shipped 14 goals in four games in all competitions. This was the second time they've seen their opponents net at least five times. Ahead of the afternoon kick-offs, only Sunderland have a worse goals-against record in the Premier League.
Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana were each allowed time and space in the box to beat Declan Rudd, while Martin's horrendous back-pass handed Milner a simple one-on-one. With his side hovering just above the drop zone, it is an area Neil must urgently address.
However, Liverpool - aside from their set-piece problems - have work to do themselves.
Earlier this week Sky Sports pundit Graeme Souness bemoaned the 'bad goals' Liverpool leak - and there were several more to add to the collection on Saturday.
Steven Naismith cruised unmarked past Emre Can and Lucas Leiva to score on his debut from a tight angle past Simon Mignolet, who should have done better. Alberto Moreno then carelessly fouled Norwich's new signing in the box to allow Hoolahan to score from the spot.
Mignolet - recently handed a five-year contract - has the worst save percentage of shots from inside the box of any goalkeeper to have made 15 appearances in the Premier League this season (49.06 per cent). Since Dejan Lovren's injury, centre-backs Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho have shipped eight goals in three games.
As Klopp conceded after the game, Liverpool's forwards won't always be able to conjure up five goals to get their backline out of jail.
Firmino on fire
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp said Roberto Firmino had finally arrived after his two-goal haul against Arsenal. Another double on Saturday has taken him to four goals in three games - some improvement on one in 24 in all competitions prior to that.
For the second time this season, the Brazilian both found the net himself and teed up a team-mate. His stats - most shots, joint-most key passes - highlight his importance to Liverpool's attacks.
It seems, regardless of the opposition, Klopp's current policy is to start with Firmino as part of an attacking trio up front, with £32.5m signing Christian Benteke used a late plan B. Firmino's return is justifying his manager's faith in him right now.
Naismith proves his worth
It may be some time before Neil can reflect on this game and take the positives from his side's performance, such must be his frustration at conceding a 95th minute winner. But the signing of Naismith immediately looks like a good move.
The Scotland international - an £8.5m arrival from Everton on Tuesday - scored his first goal for the Toffees against Liverpool and repeated the trick for Norwich, firing in from a tight angle from Hoolahan's pass.
Naismith was involved in key moments, throughout. He may well have been more harshly punished for an ugly-looking challenge on Lucas early on and could have earned his side a spot-kick when Milner shoved him to the ground in the first-half.
He did eventually win a penalty after drawing a reckless challenge from Moreno and his all-round performance surely offers encouragement for a Norwich side facing a battle to turn around their current streak of defeats.