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…