LONDON, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson scored a cracker and fellow misfit Stewart Downing got a rare assist while new striker Daniel Sturridge netted his third in three games as they put Norwich City to the sword on Saturday.
Saturday’s 5-0 home win, the second time in a row Liverpool have scored five against hapless Norwich, was the perfect antidote for Reds fans after last weekend’s painful 2-1 loss at Premier League leaders Manchester United.
The defeat at Old Trafford showed the gulf in class which now exists between the two behemoths of north-west England despite the close scoreline, but the triumph over Norwich showed there is life in seventh-placed Liverpool yet.
The performance was all the more remarkable for the efforts of England pair Henderson and Downing, bought for huge fees by former boss Kenny Dalglish in 2011 only to constantly flatter to deceive and look destined for the Anfield exit door.
“Jordan Henderson is developing and learning all the time. He works his socks off every single game,” manager Brendan Rodgers told the BBC after the former Sunderland midfielder’s thumping 26th-minute goal from the edge of the box.
Liverpool’s second after 36 minutes owed much to Sturridge, the former Chelsea striker cleverly dummying the ball through his legs to allow strike partner Luis Suarez to run in on goal and score as the pair started together for the first time.
Downing, purchased for his crossing but so rarely effective since joining from Aston Villa, then whipped in the perfect ball for Sturridge to net a tap-in before captain Steven Gerrard and a Ryan Bennett own goal completed the rout.
“It was the type of goal he was brought in for,” Rodgers said of Sturridge’s strike.
“He is terrific outside the box but he is a real killer in it. It’s three goals in three games for him and I think there will be many to come. We have played well for most of the season but Daniel coming in adds that extra threat.”
Suarez, who stayed upright in the game having admitted this week to diving earlier in the season, had been ploughing a lone furrow up front for much of the campaign after Andy Carroll’s August loan to West Ham United and injury to Fabio Borini.
Now the five-times European Cup winners finally have options in attack and an assault on fourth place and a Champions League spot, six points away with 15 games left, looks a possibility if Sturridge and Suarez can strike up a potent partnership.
“I enjoyed it very much. It’s great to be here, it’s a world class club,” Sturridge said of his home debut.
“It’s good to play with him (Suarez), we’ve been training well together. At the moment it’s going well but it is going to get a lot better. We click, we get on very well.”
Norwich manager Chris Hughton is eyeing new signings to help his sliding mid-table side with offers already in for Swansea City striker Danny Graham and Celtic forward Gary Hooper.
“It is a fact we have made bids for both of them,” he said, although Norwich’s first bid for Hooper was rejected. (Reporting by Mark Meadows; Editing by Ken Ferris)