Norwich City need Bassong at his best against Liverpool

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Jamie McDonald/Getty ImagesNorwich City will need a big game from defender Sebastien Bassong in order to fend off a hungry Liverpool.

Taken at face value, there is not much going for Norwich City ahead of a Premier League assignment at Liverpool.

The Canaries' stable top flight form at Carrow Road diverges markedly with five defeats from six on the road to this point of the campaign, and the worst defensive record in the division away from the secure confines of their Norfolk enclave.

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Liverpool's fearsome striker, Luis Suarez, also appears to derive pleasure from inflicting pain on the Canaries after four goals in last season's two league romps. Daniel Sturridge's injury absence for Wednesday's latest Anfield test provides some respite were it not for the sense that any trace of complacency from Brendan Rodgers' Champions League hopefuls ended the moment the final whistle blew on Humberside at the weekend.

Rodgers and the Liverpool public will expect the traditional response to adversity which spells danger for a Norwich outfit who routinely exhibit defensively frailty in enemy territory.

Hughton and his players know the scale of the task that awaits and the path they must navigate to secure a positive result to build on the obdurate manner of their weekend shutout against Crystal Palace.

Sebastien Bassong's return to the fray against the Eagles after his recent exile to help inspire that 1-0 win was hardly a coincidence. Bassong is a warrior of a player, a fearsome athlete with the physical attributes to tussle with the very best strikers in the air or on the ground. The Cameroon international swept all before him last season during a debut campaign at Norwich that ended with a coronation as the Canaries' player-of-the-year. Bassong in his best moments proved a peerless operator who had an impressively corrosive effect on those around him. Michael Turner endured a shaky start to his time in Norfolk but blossomed alongside Bassong to such an extent that his season-ending injury felt like a desperate moment in the battle for survival until Hughton's squad secured their top flight status in emphatic fashion with two wins in the final week.

Bassong paid for his exertions as he was forced to undergo summer surgery and a pre-season of recuperation that left him well behind the rest of his teammates. Hughton eased the 27-year-old gently into his first team plans this time around, but the influential defender had looked a pale imitation of his former self, culminating in his removal from the ranks following the 7-0 mauling at Manchester City last month.

Bassong's isolation proved temporary with Hughton admitting in the aftermath of the latest Eagles' triumph that the Parisian's eventual return was never in doubt. There were signs of the old Bassong in the way he marshalled City's backline as Palace pummelled away in the second period at Carrow Road. Norwich will need that and more at Anfield to avoid another thumping on Merseyside, but on a macro level they need Bassong at his best for the duration to fulfil the club's stated commitment to genuine Premier League growth. Hughton spent big in the summer transfer market to equip the Canaries for the next stage of their development, but Bassong is still a key component.


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