Norwich entertain Wigan on Sunday, keen to get back to winning ways following three consecutive defeats. Wigan will be hoping to give their relegation fight a much-needed boost after just one win in their last twelve Premier League matches.
The Canaries are happy playing in several different formations but one constant is their direct playing style. Even when playing with a diamond in midfield they still generate width through the strikers working the channels, predominantly attacking down the left hand side of the pitch.
One of Norwich’s big strengths is set-pieces – they have scored 14 goals from these so far this season and are strong at defending them too. They look to cross the ball into the box as often as possible, much more so than Wigan:
When crosses do come in, Norwich’s front men often drop off to the back post so they’re competing against a (smaller) full-back and not a (taller) centre-back. This tactic could hold a big advantage for Norwich:
|Headers on goal||Norwich||Wigan|
Norwich aren’t quite as intent on keeping possession in the same way teams like Swansea do – they rarely dominate games. But, as newcomers to the Premier League with a young and relatively inexperienced squad, manager Paul Lambert will almost certainly have anticipated this. As such, Lambert and his backroom staff have moulded a highly effective and hard-working attacking unit, making the most from crosses, set-pieces and counter-attacks. Shades of German efficiency spring to mind, considering Lambert’s Dortmund links.
Wigan will often change formation according to their opponents, sometimes playing five men in midfield or even defence at the cost of a second striker. Regardless of the formation used, Martinez is resilient with his style of play, favouring possession and short passing over Norwich’s more direct approach.
In possession, Wigan are very patient. However, they are prone to losing the ball perhaps more than they maybe should. So far this season, they’ve lost the ball 406 times (compared to Norwich’s 328 times). So whilst Wigan try to keep the ball, they are often undone before they can create an opportunity to score.
Like Norwich, Wigan play with width and have a bias towards attacking down their left side. This is where many of their shots on goal come from. Interestingly, Wigan are willing to take long shots, enjoying excellent success:
So 8 out of Wigan’s 23 Premier League goals (an incredible 35%) have been from outside the box. This could partly be due to playing with only one striker, especially away from home – the player on the ball may not have as many attacking options, thereby taking more chances from distance.
Wigan’s defence is prone to shipping goals from set-pieces (6 so far this season) and this could play into Norwich’s hands. They are also poor defending against skilful players, so Norwich could look to the likes of David Fox and Wes Hoolahan to provide the creativity that the Wigan defence might struggle against.
More on page 2: Key battles…
Both Norwich and Wigan attack predominantly down their respective left flanks, so the contest may well be influenced heavily by the players that are likely to occupy these positions: Anthony Pilkington for Norwich and Jordi Gomez for Wigan.
In terms of overall passing ability, both players are quite evenly matched:
|OPP Completion %||82%||83%|
|Total Chances Created (inc Assists)||31||23|
However, it is clear that Pilkington crosses the ball more often than Gomez and is more than twice as accurate with his delivery. Also, Pilkington is much more effective in terms of shooting accuracy and scoring goals:
|Mins per goal||230||396|
|Shots on Target||15||14|
|Shots off Target||9||16|
|Mins per shot||67||53|
|Mins per shot on target||107||113|
These difference in delivery quality and end-product could be pivotal in deciding the outcome of the match.
Despite Wigan often adopting defensive formations, they have a terrible record when it comes to conceding goals (52) this season. Given Norwich’s ability to score goals (38) and their own lack of clean sheets this season, goals can be expected during the game. Wigan will look to play their passing possession game, while Norwich will look to capitalise on crossing opportunities, set-pieces and even Wigan’s own mistakes.
With this in mind for Norwich, the game is tailor-made for a creative attacking midfielder such as Wes Hoolahan. His ability to see a pass may create chances against a leaky Wigan defence.
The game would also suit David Fox, Norwich’s play-maker. His influence on matches and his team-mates is often under-estimated, but his ability to dictate play from deep in midfield is something Norwich miss when he doesn’t play. In addition, he retains the ball really well and can link up play with the forwards – something that could be even more important to Norwich if Wigan approach the game with five in midfield. Fox also has very good set-piece delivery.
Wigan may resort to long shots at times, but as we’ve seen, they have an excellent record with this, so Norwich will need to prevent as many of these attempts as possible. Wigan’s best chance of getting something out of the game will be to get their wide men involved as much as possible, hoping to unlock a Norwich defence that has only kept two clean sheets all season. Moses in particular is a tricky little winger, and was certainly a thorn in Norwich’s side when the two teams fought out a 1-1 draw on the opening day of the season. His end-product often lets him down though, and here lies one of Wigan’s problems – a lack of goals scored.
As the season has progressed Norwich have continued to improve and now look reasonably safe from relegation. In contrast, Wigan will be fighting for their Premier League status and will be looking to take something from every game in the run-in. If Norwich play to their strengths, it could well be a very difficult afternoon for Wigan.
The stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) See Demo’s and videos about the Stats Centre & read about new additions to the stats centre.