Suarez on song but still has spot of bother
Norwich 2 Liverpool 5:AMID THE ELATION of Brendan Rodgers’ first league win as Liverpool manager there was cause for concern. Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick but should, not for the first time this season, also have had a penalty after being bundled over by Norwich City’s Leon Barnett.
Liverpool’s subsequent ruthlessness in front of goal reduced the incident to no more than a footnote as far as the result was concerned, but the issue has the potential for a wider resonance. Rodgers, who spoke to Mike Riley, head of the Professional Game Match Officials, last week to outline his concerns about refereeing performances, admitted he is concerned that Suarez’s reputation may be influencing officials.
“There is that fear,” he said. “There are players, attacking players who go down at times. I could tell you about three or four strikers who go down in the box with very minimal contact and all of them have had penalties this year. I can’t worry too much about it. It’s something that hopefully the referees, when they analyse and assess their own performance, they have a look at it. We just have to concentrate on building our game, developing our football, and hopefully these penalties that we don’t get won’t come back to haunt us.”
Officiating has been a bugbear for Liverpool and Suarez this campaign, but if they continue to perform as they did here it will not be a season-spoiling issue. The Uruguayan’s hat-trick was his second in two visits to Norwich and the catalyst for a dominant away performance. His second goal, just before half-time, was particularly special.
Michael Turner, handed the ball in uncomfortable circumstances on the edge of the area, was pickpocketed, nutmegged then given the best view in the house of Suarez’s majestic finish with the outside of his boot.
“He’s a special player, he’s a wonderful player with great enthusiasm for the game,” said Rodgers of the striker. “He doesn’t get the rub of the green from officials, there’s absolutely no question. Everyone today would have seen that. But we don’t complain, we keep working and keep playing like that, and we’ll be alright.”
The starting XI was Liverpool’s youngest in the best part of a decade. The presence of Suso, Andre Wisdom and Raheem Stirling meant the Reds kicked-off with three teenagers in their side.
Second-half sloppiness led to two Norwich goals – meaning that Liverpool have now gone nine Premier League games without a clean sheet – but the overall impression was one of utter dominance. Nuri Sahin, who scored the third, was hugely impressive at the tip of the midfield triangle, and Gerrard, who added the fifth, gave an intriguingly understated display in the deeper role.
For Norwich, their concerns run a little further than where their first win is going to come from.