City skipper Grant Holt is in very good company waiting for his luck to turn in front of goal this season – Liverpool’s Luis Suarez feels exactly the same way ahead of this weekend’s Carrow Road meeting.
The 25-year-old Uruguayan grabbed an astonishing 81 goals from his 110 appearances for Ajaz – a return that prompted his £22.8 million switch to Anfield in the 2010-2011 January transfer window.
Last season and he delivered a master class in finishing with a hat-trick in that 3-0 win for the visiting Reds – including the most sublime of long-distance lobs.
This season, however, and despite grabbing three goals from seven appearances – including the one to earn a point at Sunderland recently – he remains in need of a smile from Lady Luck.
A feeling he will share with City skipper Holt who – as one observer noted in the midst of Wednesday night’s 1-0 win over Doncaster Rovers in the Capital One Cup – ‘cannot buy a goal right now…’
“I’m not getting that sort of luck at the moment,” Suarez told reporters on Merseyside, with the Reds actually arriving in Norfolk stuck in the bottom three; one place beneath the goal-shy Canaries.
His words would, no doubt, echo those of the luckless Holt who has yet to grab a goal this campaign. The six-week loss to injury of the on-loan Harry Kane in mid-week will only add to the gnawing concern at Colney that City need their strike department to start delivering – particularly given the platform both Norwich’s midfield and new-look defence is handing boss Chris Hughton.
“Sometimes I’m doing the hard part by getting away from the defender, but then I’m not finishing well,” added Suarez, who finished all-too well in the corresponding fixture last year.
“But that’s what you work on in training and sometimes there’s a bit of luck involved as well, but by practising hard I’m sure that the goals I want to score will come.”
Boss Hughton faces a number of big decisions team-wise; does he risk throwing Sebastien Bassong back into the fray after the Canary centre-half bowed out early of last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Newcastle with a tight hamstring? And does he reward Alexander Tettey for his commanding performance – and winning goal – on Wednesday night with his first start for his new club? But at the expense of who?
Jonny Howson – or Bradley Johnson? Both of whom have excelled of late. And, of course, does he restore the goalless Holt up front after Steve Morison got the nod at St James’ Park? And, like Bassong, does he put Anthony Pilkington’s back through the Premier League mill tomorrow?
Whatever way he goes, Hughton will be very anxious to get that first win under his belt and add to the current discomforts of new Reds boss Brendan Rodgers who, likewise, is still looking to deliver his first three point to his own new employers.
“Liverpool haven’t had the start they would have liked, but it’s a new manager with a new philosophy and way of playing, and sometimes that takes that little bit longer,” Hughton told the club’s official website.
“There’s no doubt about the quality of players and quality of the manager. It’s only a matter of time before everything they are trying to achieve is in place and they start climbing the table. They’ve got some real quality players,” he added, Suarez being chief among them.
“We’re looking for a first win, but that probably shows the quality of this division. I think both us and Liverpool could say that we’re happy with aspects of how our teams are playing. I think we’ve certainly played well enough in the last four games to have got more than we have got.”
A feeling he shared with the visiting striker – someone unused to being in the bottom three of any league. The pressure on Liverpool to dig themselves out of that particular early hole could yet work to Norwich’s advantage this weekend.
“At the moment, we are not in the position where Liverpool Football Club has to be, which is battling it out at the top end of the league,” said Suarez.
“But we’ve been a bit unlucky and I still believe – and will continue to believe – that we have a lot of quality here and nager who is giving everyone the confidence to believe in their opportunities.”