Tuesday 13 February 2024

Ground #401 - Anfield

Date: 28th January 2024
Location: Liverpool, Merseyside
Ground: Anfield

My first new ground of 2024 was on Sunday 28th January at Anfield in Liverpool, Merseyside. The game was Liverpool vs. Norwich City in the F.A. Cup 4th Round.

Anfield is located on the edge of Stanley Park to the north-east of the city centre. The park and its car park border the north-east side of the ground with the rest of it surrounded by housing with it being in a residential area. The ground is 1.5 miles east of Sandhills and Bank Hall railway stations and 2 miles north-east of Liverpool Lime Street. Built in 1884, the venue was the home of Everton initially until they moved to Goodison Park and Liverpool FC were formed in 1892.

Anfield has had significant redevelopment in recent years with the work on the Anfield Road End still ongoing during my visit. This end was where I watched the game from, viewing from the lower deck. The new upper deck of the stand completes during early 2024 adding an extra 7,000 seats to the stadium's capacity thereby pushing it up to 61,000 in total. This work has seen an improvement in the away fan experience with the removal of the lower deck roof which had previously meant fans at the back of the stand could often not be able to see the pitch.

The Main Stand on the south-west side of the ground was expanded by 8,500 seats in 2016 and is now the largest structure in the venue. It is the only stand with three tiers and also has the largest amount of corporate hospitality, dugouts, the main reception and stadium tour entry. The Hillsborough Memorial is located on the exterior of this stand. The Centenary Stand (also known as the Sir Kenny Dalglish Stand) is opposite the main stand and was opened in 1992 - this two-tier structure also has a separate reception within and hospitality boxes between the two tiers. The only single-tier stand is the famous Kop. This end on the south-eastern side of the ground houses just over 12,000 fans, with the fiercest noise and colour (in the shape of flags and tifos) coming from this area. The interior of the Kop also houses the club museum and a bar. The club shop has now been moved to a separate large building just the south of the Kop with a cafe and the Albert Pub still remaining in this area as well.

The match was an F.A. Cup 4th Round tie between Premier League side Liverpool and Championship side Norwich City. It was the first game to be held since Jürgen Klopp's announcement that he would be standing down as Liverpool manager at the end of the season. The game turned out to be an entertaining one with seven goals scored in total. The hosts went close in the 10th minute when a curling 20-yard effort by Darwin Nunez came back off the post. The respite only lasted six minutes for Norwich as James McConnell's cross to the back post found Curtis Jones in plenty of space to nod past George Long. Norwich had barely been out of their own half in the opening spell but managed to force a couple of corners a quarter of the way through the game. From the second corner Gabriel Sara's ball in was headed over Allison by Ben Gibson to give the Canaries an unlikely equaliser. Things went back to normal after this with Liverpool pressing Norwich and in the 28th minute they were back in front as Conor Bradley slipped the ball into Nunez and the Uruguayan made no mistake shooting into the bottom corner from 12 yards. A couple of minutes later Cody Gakpo missed a guilt edge chance to put his side two goals up and Norwich almost conceded straight after when goalkeeper and defenders were caught messing around at the back and Ben Gibson cleared Ryan Gravenberch's shot off the line. There was little action for the remainder of the half as the game paused with Liverpool leading 2-1.

Norwich would have been glad to get to the break only one goal down but just seven minutes after the restart Diogo Jota grabbed a third for the reds. A long ball from Curtis Jones almost found Jota and although Ben Gibson got a head to it this just set the ball up nicely for Jota to smash home on the half volley. A quiet period followed this until the 63rd minute when Dominik Szoboszlai's corner was met with a bullet header by Virgil van Dijk past the diving reach of George Long to put Liverpool 4-1 up. Rather than wilting this spurred Norwich on and five minutes late they had the ball in the net as Borja Sainz low cross from the left was turned in by Christian Fassnacht. However, Sainz had strayed offside and was met with the lineman's flag to disallow the goal. A minute later Sainz turned this frustration around by scoring the best goal of the afternoon. The Spaniard took the ball down on his chest before unleashing a beautiful 25-yard drive past Allison. The visitors were kept in the game with ten minutes to go as George Long pulled off a terrific double save from close range efforts from Jota and Gravenberch. As the clock ticked down it became clear Norwich's hopes were falling from slim to none and this was rounded off by the hosts as they added a 5th goal in the 5th minute of stoppage time. Luis Diaz crossed the ball from left to right and when Conor Bradley volleyed the ball back from where it came Ryan Gravenberch was there to stick out his head to steer the ball into the corner of the net. A 5-2 win for Liverpool then as they advanced to the 5th round of the cup.

Result: Liverpool 5-2 Norwich City
Competition: F.A. Cup
Attendance: 57,334

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