One-time Norwich loan star Jan Molby insists that up to half-a-dozen FA Cup final places remain up for grabs this weekend as the Canaries look to finally – ie mathematically – confirm their place in the Premier League again next season.
Victory over Kenny Dalglish’s men would make events elsewhere wholly irrelevant and ensure that the final home game of the season against Aston Villa could be held in something of a celebratory mood – even if Villa arrived with everything still to play for.
Chances are, of course, that by then the likes of a Bolton, a Blackburn or a Wigan will have joined Wolves en route back to The Championship – a fate Molby was convinced that awaited the Canaries this season.
“I looked at their squad pre-season and felt that they would struggle. It looked a Championship squad to me,” the 49-year-old told readers of his regular column in The Liverpool Echo.
“But they have shown great improvement. They are a high-energy team who can pass the ball and score goals.
“They may be 13th, but they are only three points behind Liverpool. Paul Lambert deserves immense credit. They will be a tough test.”
Molby made three appearances on loan at Carrow Road in 1995, his illustrious playing days at Anfield somewhat behind him.
But he remains very well placed to call this weekend’s fixture – in particular the way in which Liverpool need to approach the contest given their looming date at Wembley.
The Reds need to get some wind back in their sails; they also have the small matter of finishing the season above near-neighbours Everton in the Premier League table.
In Molby’s eyes the players have everything to play for in this weekend’s 5.30pm fixture; with Fulham due at Anfield on Tuesday night, both points and performances are required.
“Performances at Carrow Road, and at home to Fulham on Tuesday could be vital,” said the Dane. “And for Liverpool, the need is for momentum.
“There is no button you can press to turn form on and off, you can only do it through hard work and playing well. Kenny will be desperate to ensure both.”
For the Canaries, the test is to shrug off last weekend’s somewhat lacklustre defeat at Blackburn and to give the home faithful something more to celebrate than the last, 6-1 home defeat by title hopefuls Manchester City.
But boss Paul Lambert recognises that Liverpool remain a force to be reckoned with – particularly with Steven Gerrard orchestrating events on the pitch and Celtic legend Kenny Dalglish masterminding events off it.
“Liverpool are a top side – the players they have got there are outstanding,” he told the club’s official website this morning.
Dalglish has already delivered the Carling Cup to Merseyside this season; derailing the Chelsea band-wagon may, however, prove a different matter.
“The history they’ve got there makes it a huge club – so we have got to step it up from last week,” said the City chief.
Team-wise and the Canaries will still be unable to call on the services of Marc Tierney, Zak Whitbread and ex-Reds defender Daniel Ayala.
Lambert has, however, James Vaughan back in the fold again and the one-time Everton starlet would probably enjoy nothing more than grabbing a goal against them from across Stanley Park.
As ever, the City faithful will expect changes from the side that lost at Ewood – that’s the way their manager rolls.
Whether Aaron Wilbraham can reclaim his starting space and whether the likes of a Bradley Johnson can repeat his heroics against Spurs against Gerrard and Co in the heat of that midfield battle is just two of the questions that will only be answered come 5.30pm.
By 7.30pm, however, at least Norwich fans can hope that the Premier League future will have been signed, sealed and delivered.
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