Leroy Fer will be key for Norwich against West Ham
Date: Saturday 9th November
Venue: Carrow Road
Norwich will be looking to banish memories of a horrific 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Manchester City as they welcome West Ham to Carrow Road on Saturday. Under-pressure Chris Hughton’s men come into the contest languishing in the drop zone to compound the misery of last weekend’s defeat, whilst the Hammers sit just two points to the good of the relegation places, setting the stage for an encounter from which both sides will be keen to emerge with a precious three points.
The Canaries are set to receive a boost from the expected returns of Robert Snodgrass and Nathan Redmond, both of whom missed out on the dismantling at the Etihad Stadium after picking up knocks in Capital One Cup action.
Summer capture Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, who has played just three minutes since early October due to a nagging toe problem, also appears in line to make his comeback at a time when Norwich are desperate for goals.
Whether the three will be on the pitch from the off remains questionable, however, and in turn Hughton may be forced to field a starting eleven almost identical to the one that was torn to shreds by City last Saturday.
James Tomkins shook off a knock to start against Aston Villa last time out and appears to be well going forward, whilst veterans Matt Taylor and George McCartney will be available for the contest with Norwich, though have not featured much, if at all, this season.
Given the Hammers’ heavily depleted ranks, an unchanged line-up from the one that faced Aston Villa is a distinct possibility.
Both clubs are in the midst of a scoring crisis, as Norwich have failed to hit the back of the net in three straight in all competitions, whilst West Ham are without a goal in two Premier League contests on the bounce.
The Canaries have picked up just a single point from the last 12 on offer and haven’t recorded a victory at home since August 31, so will be keen to reverse this pair of disturbing trends.
Allardyce’s charges, meanwhile, have been able to weather their troubles beating the ‘keeper of late by shutting out their opponents in kind, and have taken six of their total 10 points away from Upton Park over the course of the campaign.
Players to Watch:
Norwich – Leroy Fer
The young Dutchman has been one of the few constants for Norwich in a tough term to date, playing all 90 minutes of each game after missing out on opening day.
With Snodgrass potentially not fit to start the creative onus will fall on Fer, who is second in the side to the Scot with 11 chances created, and the 23-year-old will be required to adequately supply his team-mates if the Canaries are to start scoring again at last.
His defensive capabilities in the centre of the park will also be called upon to keep the equally goal-starved opposition at bay, as Fer has succeeded in 23 of 27 tackles this season and will doubly be key in Norwich’s efforts to win the battle in the centre of the park.
West Ham – Stewart Downing
Downing has been particularly perturbed by West Ham’s inability to get on the scoresheet in their two previous matches, remarking, “We’re playing well but not getting the rewards,” after the draw with Villa Saturday.
The Englishman has been the side’s chief creator with 18 key passes played this term and has been frustrated by the lack of a clinical edge around him, but will have eyes to finally see chances converted into assists against a Norwich back line lacking confidence at present.
Yet to score this season, Downing would do well to have a go himself given his 67% shot accuracy figure, although he hasn’t quite been prolific in front of goal throughout his career.
The clubs’ matching goal droughts suggest a low-scoring affair is in store, but each will be aware of the need to take three points away from a winnable fixture as they sit near the bottom of the table and should be enterprising in turn.
Despite poor home form this term to go alongside West Ham’s relative success on the road, Norwich will still be boosted by playing in the friendly confines.
And with Snodgrass, Redmond, and Van Wolfswinkel stepping back into the fold for the Canaries as the Hammers continue to be plagued by injuries up front, Hughton’s men may just have the necessary firepower to break through their adversaries’ miserly defence whilst keeping the visitors’ attack in check.
Norwich 2-1 West Ham