Norwich’s Premier League fate is now hanging by a thread. Alex Neil’s men have suffered 3 defeats on the bounce at a crucial moment of the relegation scrap to ultimately slip to 19th in the table and two points from safety zone ahead of their most important encounter against Manchester United at Carrow Road on Saturday.
Defeats at the hands of fellow relegation-threatened teams Crystal Palace and Sunderland looked to be a major blow in their bid to avoid the drop, but the Canaries may also consider themselves unlucky after going through three games without a point with last week’s 1-0 loss to Arsenal.
Norwich are right now 2 points behind Newcastle, but they have one game remaining over the Magpies. However, Sunderland are sandwiched between the two sides but have one-point advantage over Norwich, which means that even if Neil’s boys win all three of their remaining matches, they could still be pipped to the final survival berth by the Black Cats.
Meanwhile, United have plenty at stake themselves. Louis Van Gaal’s United Red Devils are in front of a big final three fixtures, although with a completely different sort of pressure. Manchester United are four points behind Manchester City and seven adrift of Arsenal as they chase the pair for a Champions League qualification spot. United although have a match in hand on both and they will be desperate to gain some momentum before facing their city rivals on the other side of Manchester next Sunday.
Last time these two teams met, it was a complete disastrous for United. They suffered an agonising defeat at Old Trafford. Cameron Jerome and Alexander Tettey scored in that fixture to put Norwich 2-0 up within the first hour. Later, Anthony Martial pulled one back but it was not enough as Manchester United lost 1-2.
Manchester United – Having been charged with violent conduct for a clash with Robert Huth last weekend, United’s Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini finds himself suspended for this fixture.
It means that Ander Herera and Morgan Schneiderlin will be pushing for first-team call-up, with the latter may be the favourite to come in.
Aside from that enforced alteration, Van Gaal could well stick with the same side that drew 1-1 with champions Leicester City.
Norwich City – As for Norwich, both attackers Steven Naismith and Dieumerci Mbokani are expecting a recall, having started on the bench against Arsenal last weekend.
Meanwhile, defenders Timm Klose and Andre Windom are not likely to recover from knee injuries in time to feature.
Norwich possible starting lineup: Ruddy; Pinto, Martin, Bassong, Olsson; Redmond, Howson, O’Neil, Brady; Naismith, Mbokani
Man United possible starting lineup: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Blind, Rojo; Carrick, Schneiderlin; Lingard, Rooney, Martial; Rashford
A home win would give Norwich a league double over Manchester United for the first time since the 1989-90 season.
United have never lost home and away to a newly-promoted side in the same Premier League season.
Norwich have won only two of their last 15 league games, losing 11 of them.
City have conceded nine penalties in this season’s Premier League, more than any other side.
The Canaries have won only one (Newcastle) of their last seven home league games (D2, L4).
Manchester United have not won a Premier League match outside of Manchester since January – blimey!
The Red Devils have scored just four goals in their last six Premier League away matches.
Juan Mata has scored four Premier League goals versus Norwich – more than against any other team and with Fellaini suspended, it’s a fair bet he will play.
Norwich City Win – 4/1
Draw – 13/5
Manchester United – 5/6
A draw helps neither of these sides, but there is a real chance that they could end up cancelling each other out. United’s performances have improved ever so slightly over recent weeks, but with a passionate crowd behind them, Norwich should have what it takes to claim a share of the spoils.
We can see a 1-1 draw at the Carow Road today.