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Feb 15, 2020 at 5.30pm UK
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Preview: Norwich vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Norwich vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Premier League clash between Norwich City and Liverpool as bottom hosts top, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.
Sports Mole

Bottom faces top in the Premier League on Saturday when Norwich City host Liverpool at Carrow Road as both sides return to top-flight action following the mid-season break.

An enormous chasm of 55 points separates the two sides in the standings, with Liverpool looking certain to end their 30-year wait for a title while Norwich would need a great escape to avoid an immediate return to the Championship.

Match preview

It was against Norwich that Liverpool's remarkable season began back in August, when their 4-1 triumph at Anfield gave an early glimpse of what we could expect from both sides in 2019-20.

Many expected Norwich to fare a little better than they have considering the number of problems they caused Jurgen Klopp's side despite the heavy defeat, but no-one could have predicted just how dominant the Reds would go on to be, even when they were four goals ahead at half time.

Twenty-four games later and Liverpool boast a 22-point lead over champions Manchester City - already the biggest lead in Premier League history and one which they have the chance to extend to 25 courtesy of Man City's postponed game against West Ham United last weekend.

No team in the history of Europe's top five leagues can match Liverpool's record so far this term, with Klopp's side reaching the winter break having won 24 of their 25 league games, dropping only two points from a possible 75.

Indeed, the remarkable record stretches further back than the last time these two teams met in August, with Liverpool picking up 100 of the last 102 points on offer in the Premier League in a run which now stretches back almost an entire year.

A plethora of records have already been shattered and many more look destined to follow in a campaign the like of which has never been seen before and may never be seen again, but central to the relentlessness of their form is Klopp's insistence to take every game as it comes.

Such a zero-tolerance approach to complacency may be tested in a week which sees a much more alluring Champions League tie with Atletico Madrid follow this trip to the Premier League's basement club, although even when chalking up win after win there have been enough scares to keep Liverpool on their toes.

A 4-0 win over Southampton in the last league game was nowhere near as straightforward as the result suggests, and it remains to be seen whether the Premier League's first ever winter break could have an impact on the winning momentum Liverpool have enjoyed almost unimpeded since the start of the season.

Visiting the league's bottom side is a kind way to get back into the groove, though, and should Liverpool avoid a slip-up at Carrow Road then it would be their 43rd successive top-flight game without defeat to move clear of Nottingham Forest's 1978 team and haul the Arsenal Invincibles that bit closer.

Another landmark within reach is the top-flight record for consecutive wins; victory on Saturday would see Liverpool equal their own mark of 17 which came to an end at Old Trafford earlier this season and leave them just one short of Man City's record of 18.

An away win looks to be by far the most likely result in this match, and Daniel Farke's admission that his side would need a minor miracle to avoid relegation could also be applied to their chances of toppling Liverpool.

The Canaries are seven points adrift of safety with 13 games of the campaign remaining, while their league-worst goal difference makes the gap even more difficult to make up.

Norwich have conceded the joint-most goals in the league this season while only Crystal Palace have scored fewer, which is a worrying record when facing a team with the second-best attack and by far the best defensive record.

Farke's side have won just one of their last 12 league games too, although there is perhaps some cause for optimism within that run considering many of their best performances have come when they have been the biggest underdogs.

Since the beginning of December Norwich have taken points off Arsenal, Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur, and they will need to muster those levels of performance again in a run which sees Wolverhampton Wanderers, Leicester and Sheffield United next up after Liverpool.

Indeed, six of their next seven league games come against teams currently in the top half, while trips to Chelsea and Manchester City also loom in the final three weeks of the season, so there will need to be more than one upset along the way if they are to haul themselves away from relegation.

The Canaries will certainly need to improve their home form considering that Southampton are the only team to have picked up fewer points in front of their own fans this term, and they made a good start to that with victory over Bournemouth in their last outing at Carrow Road.

The 1-0 triumph not only secured a first home league win since their unforgettable triumph over Man City in September, it also saw them keep a clean sheet at home in the top flight for the first time since March 2016 - a run which stretched back 16 games.

Liverpool are an entirely different proposition, though, with Klopp's side have scored in every game so far this season and conceded just one goal at the other end in their last 10 matches.

Norwich Premier League form: DDLWLD
Norwich form (all competitions): WLWLWD

Liverpool Premier League form: WWWWWW
Liverpool form (all competitions): WWDWWW

Team News

Sadio Mane is now back in training for Liverpool after missing the last two league games before the winter break with a minor hamstring tear.

The Senegal winger is available, although there is the possibility that Klopp could hold him and one or two others back with one eye on the Champions League trip to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

The break lessens the need for such rests, but the possibility of rotation is also likely to be boosted by James Milner's recovery from an injury of his own, although Xherdan Shaqiri remains sidelined.

Perhaps the biggest decision for Klopp will be where to play Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has scored in Liverpool's last two games but has seen competition for places in midfield intensify with the return to fitness of Fabinho and the fine form of Jordan Henderson.

Norwich, meanwhile, are able to welcome Ben Godfrey back from suspension after the defender completed his three-game ban.

Emiliano Buendia is expected to return to the starting lineup after being named on the bench for the goalless draw with Newcastle United before the mid-season break, while top-scorer Teemu Pukki, who scored in the reverse fixture, will lead the line.

Norwich possible starting lineup:
Krul; Aarons, Zimmermann, Godfrey, Byram; Tettey, McLean; Buendia, Duda, Cantwell; Pukki

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Head To Head

Norwich have a torrid record against Liverpool in recent years, failing to win any of their last 13 meetings in a run which includes 11 defeats and stretches back to 1994.

The Reds have scored 28 goals in the last seven editions of this fixture, including five-goal hauls on four separate occasions, most recently on their last trip to Carrow Road in January 2016.

That game ended 5-4 to Liverpool, with all of their goalscorers from that thriller - Roberto Firmino, Henderson, Milner and Adam Lallana - still on the books for Klopp's side.

Norwich's last victory over Liverpool in front of their own fans came in 1993, with Liverpool having drawn one and then won their last six in a row away to the Canaries since then.

We say: Norwich 0-3 Liverpool

Despite their poor league position and goal difference, Norwich have only been beaten by more than a two-goal margin on three occasions this season, so they are not a team who regularly ship large numbers.

One of those games was against Liverpool, though, and it is hard to see past another comfortable win for Klopp's side considering that they should now be well rested after the mid-season break. The Reds are now in the home straight en route to a first league title since 1990, and this seems like an ideal match for them to pick up exactly where they left off.

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