Things we sort of learned

After Norwich’s 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield, Dan Brigham and Jon Rogers praise John Ruddy, ponder the left wing, miss Wes Hoolahan’s creativity, and mostly crowbar in several gratuitous pig references

Ruddy is Norwich’s glue
You know that lovely glue you used at school, with those little white spatulas? You know the one: it was mostly used for sticking toilet rolls to cereal boxes to make a cute little hodgepodge of a Prime Minister with his penis inside a pig’s mouth.

After the lesson, you’d get loads of that dried glue on your fingers and the rest of the day was spent cheerfully pulling the bits away from your hands like dead skin.

Wonderful, satisfying times.

Sigh.

Basically, Ruddy reminded me of that glue. Sticky, satisfying, wonderful. It was his best performance of the season; maybe of last season too. Those safe hands at corners, that incredible block from Philippe Coutinio in front of the Kop – he earned us a point on Sunday.

Hope Roy was watching. JR

Brady is better further forward
After the Bournemouth win, Alex Neil was quick to emphasise how pleased he was with the combination of Robbie Brady and Matt Jarvis down the left. The two of them had linked up well and were a constant menace going forward; Brady had also pulled off a brilliant goal-saving block when the score was 0-0.

However, on Sunday Brady got caught out of position on a number of occasions – and not for the first time this season. This can happen when the full-backs are instructed to push so high, but Steven Whittaker’s defensive mind is more alert to the danger. As a natural winger, it’s hard to criticise Brady and there will surely come a time when Neil will look to start Martin Olsson at left-back.

A defence that is yet to keep a clean sheet would benefit from Olsson's presence, but what to do with the left wing? As problems go, it's a good one for Neil (a bad problem would be, say, the whole world finding out you once unzipped your trousers, plopped out your willy and popped it inside a pig corpse). Jarvis adds pace and directness, but twice on Sunday he had the chance to play in Cameron Jerome and then Lewis Grabban early but instead got his head down and headed for the byline. Brady is the more gifted player – capable with both feet and adept at either going direct or picking out a killer pass.

It probably won’t be long until he’s moved up to left midfield, with Olsson lurking menacingly behind him like David Cameron in a butcher’s shop. DB

Hoolahan was missed
There was strong logic behind leaving Wes Hoolahan out of the starting line-up. With Coutinho back for Liverpool, it was always likely that their greatest threat would come through the middle, so Neil stuffed Norwich’s midfield with players who can run all day and close down space.

But, as brave as Norwich were going forward – the full-backs pushed as high as ever – they really created very little. While Jonny Howson and Graham Dorrans were defensively sound and gave quick ball out wide, there wasn’t much for Jerome to feed off through the middle – only 18% of Norwich’s attacks came down the centre.

Now, I love Wes. Even if I found out he carried an expired pig around with him in order to occasionally facilitate a meeting between his todger and the porker's mouth, I'd probably still love him. But Norwich become far more predictable without him and his magic shin pad – especially when Howson appears to have been instructed to stick closer to the midfield than to Jerome – and the wingers often receive the ball higher up the pitch when Hoolahan is involved, from where they can cause more damage. A shaky Liverpool defence was never properly tested.

Let’s face it, though. Neil can feel justified in his decision as Norwich looked solid enough and took a point. But please, Alex, don’t make a habit of rotating him, especially when he’s in the form of his life. DB
 
Liverpool will be fine
There’s a great bit in Michael Calvin’s brilliant new book on footballer managers, Living On The Volcano, where Brendan Rodgers goes full Brendan Rodgers. It’s worth repeating:

“‘I love to run on the streets around here,’” the Liverpool manager says, with the ease of a politician circulating at a cocktail party, ‘I love seeing the people going about their business. These are our people. I love running late in the afternoon, when the doors are open and the dinners are on, and you can smell the mince cooking…’”.

Right there, with that disingenuous romantic bullshit, is why so many find it hard to warm to Rodgers. He loves to hark back to Liverpool managerial legends as if he is a natural successor to them, back to the days when a football was made from a pig's bladder (if any future Prime Ministers are reading, note that a pig's bladder is almost certainly far more cumbersome than a pig's mouth to insert your whang into), back to the days when Liverpool would have viewed a draw at home to a promoted side as an affront, rather than just another blip on their journey into ordinariness.

However, although praising Rodgers often has to come through gritted teeth, he has been good for the Premier League. And there was enough to suggest that Liverpool may still be vying for a Champions League spot come the end of the season. Two strikers on the pitch transformed them, and there were round pegs in round holes throughout the team. Danny Ings also showed why he should be the young English striker everyone is talking about, more so than Harry Kane.

Come the end of the season, a point at Anfield may feel even more satisfying than it already does. DB

The relegation script is already written
With West Ham beating Manchester City, Bournemouth beating West Ham, and Norwich trouncing Bournemouth, the Premier League is the new Championship – where any team can win.

Sure, it points towards an exciting season. But, as we are part of this topsy-turvy league, we’re one of the ping-pong balls in this churning bingo machine called the top flight and who knows which three teams will be called out first.

The script is already written, though.

Sunderland, Newcastle and Aston Villa look like they will do their best to look useless right up until the end of March when they all go on jammy seven-match unbeaten runs – and save themselves by goal difference. Where Dick, Tim and Steve are lifted onto shoulders and carried home.

If the scriptwriter is a complete pig-fucker, that is. JR

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