Liverpool face 'massive' games with Villa and Everton after Norwich setback, says Phil Thompson

Christian Benteke vies for the ball against Russell Martin
Image: Failure to beat Norwich has only made victory against Villa and Everton in Liverpool's next two league games all the more crucial, according to Thompson

Liverpool's failure to beat Norwich in the Premier League on Sunday has only increased the pressure on the Reds, according to the club's former captain Phil Thompson.

Brendan Rodgers' side could only manage a 1-1 draw with the newly promoted Canaries at Anfield, meaning they have now gone five matches in all competitions without a win.

Thommo predicts...

Thommo predicts...

Find out what Phil Thompson is predicting for Liverpool v Carlisle in his Sky Bet tips here.

Thommo predicts...

Find out what Phil Thompson is predicting for Liverpool v Carlisle in his Sky Bet tips here.

However, while Thompson admits his old team were unlucky not to take all three points against Norwich, he also feels that setback has only made Saturday's league clash at home to struggling Aston Villa even more important.

"Liverpool were very unfortunate and are obviously going through a difficult time right now," he said.

"It was one of those games and while it was a good performance, you feel like they need two goals to really build any confidence and settle the nerves, which are running through the team and the fans right now.

The pressure remains on for next weekend's clash with Aston Villa, then there's the massive game with Everton
Phil Thompson

"A second goal would have put them out of sight and they could have run away with it, but it obviously wasn't to be and the pressure remains on for next weekend's clash with Aston Villa, then there's the massive game with Everton."

One positive to come out of the match for Rodgers and Liverpool, though, was the return from injury of striker Daniel Sturridge, with the England international making his first appearance for the club since damaging his hip in April.

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Daniel Sturridge is closed down by Sebastien Bassong
Image: Sturridge made his long-awaited return from injury against Norwich

"The balance of the side looked better with Sturridge helping Rodgers's system," said Thompson, who thinks the forward should also be given a run-out against Carlisle in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday night.

"Sturridge did look very rusty though and if he's not feeling too stiff, I'd be tempted to give him another 45 minutes in the Capital One Cup.

"I think [Jordan] Rossiter and [Jordon] Ibe will be given a start, while there's plenty of other talented players in the squad capable of helping the club compete in all of the competitions we're in this season."

One player who certainly caught the eye on Sunday was Danny Ings, who opened the scoring against Norwich with his first goal since moving to Anfield from Burnley in the summer.

Danny Ings scores his first goal for Liverpool to give them the lead
Image: Ings scored his first goal for Liverpool against Norwich on Sunday

And Thompson believes Ings should always be played through the middle now after Rodgers positioned the forward on the left-hand side of a front three in Liverpool's 3-1 loss at Manchester United in their previous league outing.

"Ings was excellent when he came on to replace Christian Benteke at half-time," Thompson added.

"I'd have liked to have seen him used in that central role when he was handed his chance against United, rather than stuck out on the left. That made me feel a bit uneasy as I didn't feel like he got a fair crack on his debut."

The Soccer Saturday pundit is tipping his former club to beat Carlisle 3-1 at 9/1 in 'Thommo's Sky Bet tips' along with Danny Ings to score first at 3/1

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