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Norwich City vs Manchester United: Match Preview

Shreyas Pai
954   //    17 Nov 2012, 00:46 IST

Stadium: Carrow Road

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Kick-off: 11:00 PM IST, Saturday, 9th of November

Norwich City manager Chris Hughton has claimed that his side will be going for a win against table-toppers Manchester United, when the latter come visiting to Carrow Road on Saturday. The Canaries have cause to be optimistic, as impressive performances over the past few weekends have seen them recover from a sluggish start, and pull 5 points clear of the relegation zone. Their opponents have conceded early goals on countless occasions already this season, and a total of 16 in 11 games; something to look forward to for Grant Holt and co.

Sir Alex Ferguson, meanwhile, has spoken about the tendency to concede early as United’s weakness, but with Jones, Smalling, and Evans all nearing a return to full fitness, it might be a problem that United can soon forget. Up front, however, it has been nothing short of a delight to watch some of the best strikers in the world working in tandem. Hernandez has managed to hold his own, in the company of RvP, and Rooney, and is likely to start this match, as SAF keeps an eye on Tuesday’s fixture against Galatasaray, and the thigh strain that RvP picked up against Aston Villa.


Norwich City: W D W W D

Undefeated in their last five competitive fixtures, Norwich’s recent exploits include victories over Arsenal and Tottenham, in the league and League Cup respectively. This is, however, quite deceptive, and doesn’t quite tell the complete tale of Norwich’s campaign thus far. With only 8 goals scored in their 11 games, Norwich are surprisingly just 3 points away from being in the top half of the table, thanks to their goals coming in crucial 1 – 0 victories. With a free scoring United on their hands, however, a solitary goal, or even two doesn’t quite seem enough, and Norwich will have to rely heavily on their defensive performance, if they are to take anything away from this fixture.

Manchester United: W L W W W 

Manchester United, after a shaky start to the season, with defeats to Everton and Tottenham, have really taken off in recent weeks, with important league wins over Chelsea, and Arsenal along the way. Having recovered more points from losing positions than any other team in the league thus far, United can rest assured that the quality of their attack is simply unbelievable, and capable of overwhelming any defence on its day. The question of why United have found themselves in losing positions so often, though, is an important one, and the Old Trafford faithful will be hoping that the return to fitness of a host of defenders will prove to be the solution.

David de Gea will consider himself mighty unfortunate to have stepped into the big shoes of Van der Sar at a time when United’s defence has chosen to render the ‘keeper absolutely helpless on several occasions. However, there are many many good years to come from the young Spaniard, and with United, he can rest assured that the cracks will soon be plastered.

Injuries, Concerns & Suspensions

Norwich City: Harry Kane, Russell Martin.

Manchester United: Nemanja Vidic, Luis Nani, Shinji Kagawa, Phil Jones, Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Jonny Evans.

Key Clashes

Javier Hernandez vs Michael Turner 

With an inspired performance last weekend to help United overturn a two goal deficit, Hernandez earned the appreciation of the gaffer who said Hernandez ‘might be in the team for next week’. If indeed he does start, it will be an absolute nightmare for Turner, as he will struggle to deal with the pace and industry of Hernandez. As someone who is used to dealing with a conventional center forward, Turner will have to adapt his game tremendously to deal with Hernandez’s targetman style of play; something that even the most versatile defenders struggle to do against the Mexican. One finds it hard to deny that Chicharito will add to his tally from last weekend, in an impressive return to form for United.

Grant Holt vs Jonny Evans

The last time these two teams met, Grant Holt gave United a right scare in the title race with an excellent turn-and-shot equaliser for Norwich in Ryan Giggs’ 900th appearance for United, only for the legendary Welshman to score a dramatic injury time winner. Likely to face the same defensive combination of Ferdinand and Evans, Holt will attempt to get the better of the Irishman in a physical encounter that should make for an interesting watch. Holt is Norwich’s top scorer with 3 league goals this season, and will be hoping for a repeat of last season’s performance to justify his place in the squad ahead of the likes of Hoolahan and Steve Morison.

What to expect

Goals aplenty, with the majority going the way of Manchester United. Both defences have been extremely generous this season, conceding a combined total of 34 goals, and while Norwich have scored only 8 times, it would be wrong to rule them out, thanks to the sheer unpredictability of United’s back-four this season. United, on the other hand, have scored 29 goals, more than any other club, and with Champions League progress already wrapped up, might look to increase their goal difference by a healthy margin. After all, the last thing they want is a repeat of last season!

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Shreyas Pai
A free bird that wishes he were a little Red boot on Giggsy's left foot.
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