Liverpool put five goals past Norwich for the second time this season as they romped to an emphatic 5-0 victory at Anfield on Saturday.
Norwich’s defense had seen a big improvement since their 5-2 defeat at Carrow Road last September but there was little evidence of that on a miserable afternoon for Chris Hughton’s side.
Jordan Henderson put Liverpool ahead midway through the first period, before Luis Suarez continued his own personal love affair with Norwich to make it two before the break. There was plenty to admire about Liverpool’s attacking play as Daniel Sturridge provided a new dimension to their play. It was fitting that the recent signing from Chelsea got his third goal in as many appearances for his new club before a trademark Steven Gerrard strike and an own goal from Ryan Bennett completed the rout.
Liverpool began the encounter in purposeful mood and could have gone ahead early as Sturridge and Suarez both saw efforts saved by Mark Bunn.
A deserved breakthrough arrived in the 26th minute, courtesy of a memorable strike from Jordan Henderson. Given a more advanced role in recent weeks, the former Sunderland man finally appears to be starting to justify his hefty transfer fee and certainly will have done his relationship with the Liverpool fans no harm here.
After Suarez was tackled on the edge of the box the ball broke, bouncing, to Henderson on the edge of the box and the midfielder met it with the cleanest of first-time strikes into the corner of the net.
While Norwich could perhaps have done little with that fine strike, Hughton will have been furious at how easily his defense was bypassed for the second goal 11 minutes later. An admittedly delightful dummy from Sturridge took out the entire Norwich back line, allowing Suarez to run clear and coolly slot the ball past Bunn.
Certainly there were more encouraging signs of a potentially fruitful partnership between Sturridge and Suarez. The two almost combined for a third before the interval, but, having been found by Suarez, Sturridge’s effort was saved by the Norwich keeper.
Just prior to the hour mark, Sturridge did get his name on the score sheet after a wonderful move. Henderson chipped the ball to Stewart Downing at the back post, who met the pass with a side-foot volley perfectly across the face of goal with his weaker foot that took out Bunn and allowed Sturridge to tap home at the back post.
Any danger that Liverpool would take the foot off the gas after their first-half dominance was being firmly dispelled as they continued to control the match and attack with menace.
While Liverpool are changing greatly under Brendan Rodgers, Steven Gerrard showed that some things remain constant. After Glen Johnson drove in from the left, the Liverpool captain took a pass and, as he has done so often down the years, drilled a powerful low shot into the corner of the net from close to 30 yards out.
Perhaps the lowest point of the afternoon for Norwich arrived with the fifth goal that owed much to the visitor’s ineptitude. Raheem Sterling was allowed to get past Michael Turner far too easily on the left corner of the box, allowing the substitute to cut in and hit a shot at goal that was taken into the net by the outstretched boot of Ryan Bennett.
But as poor as Norwich were, there was much to smile about for Liverpool fans in perhaps their most complete performance of the season. They must now be hoping that their side can take this form on and find the consistency that has so far been lacking in this transition season for Rodgers.