With eleven games to play and the gap between Manchester United and Manchester City still twelve points, every game the league leaders head into is a hugely significant fixture. Saturday afternoon’s match up with Norwich City is no different, however with the prospect of Real Madrid visiting Old Trafford just three days afterwards changes may well be made to Sir Alex’s thus far successful line-up in the last few fixtures.
Norwich City head into the game seemingly just bordering on Premier League survival with the Canaries a sizeable eight points ahead of Aston Villa who occupy eighteenth place in the division. However, after enduring a recent dip in form after the Autumnal resurgence under Chris Hughton it will be vital Norwich start to pick up crucial points to prevent them being dragged into a relegation dogfight.
United head into Saturday’s fixture buoyed by last weekend’s professional performance at Loftus Road in a 2-0 win against QPR with Michael Carrick continuing his run of outstanding form which has endeared himself to all the Manchester United supporters.
Norwich also head to Old Trafford full of confidence after a surprising 2-1 victory over David Moyes’ Everton side with two very late goals from Kei Kamara and Grant Holt and will be looking to fully use Kei Kamara’s aerial prowess and expose United’s perceived aerial weaknesses defensively. Manager Chris Hughton has even pointed towards the fact it is that much harder to head to Old Trafford following a defeat and due to the victory over Everton the Canaries will be heading to Manchester with a far greater sense of positivity. Regardless of the victory the Champions elect will be odds on favourites to win at home and bwin are offering a free £20 on the game bet for EPLIndex readers.
Norwich City manager Chris Hughton has today confirmed on Sky Sports that Norwich City will be without the physical midfield presence of Alexander Tettey as well as Andrew Surman for the visit to Manchester United with Chris Hughton being as quoted as saying “It’s a blow but hopefully they won’t be too far away from coming back.” Norwich will also be without goalkeeper John Ruddy once again as he continues his lengthy recovery from a thigh injury which has kept him out since November however Chris Hughton confirmed Ruddy’s recovery is on track and he may well be back playing for the first team as early as March 30th against Wigan Athletic.
Manchester United’s team selection one would assume will be very heavily based on the team and system Sir Alex wants to play midweek against Real Madrid. It is expected following his injury suffered in the FA Cup tie against Reading, Phil Jones will once again miss out along with Robin Van Persie who following his collision with a camera pit at Loftus Road last weekend will unlikely be risked ahead of Madrid. Wayne Rooney having not started the last two fixtures due to sinusitis is expected to return to the Manchester United starting line-up for Norwich on Saturday.
- Manchester United have lost only one Premier League game at home this season
- Norwich have won only one of their thirteen games away from Carrow Road in the Premier League this season and this was against Swansea on December 8th
- Thirty of the thirty-one Premier League goals conceded by Manchester United this season have been inside the penalty area. This is something the aerial presence of Kei Kamara may wish to take advantage of come Saturday afternoon
- Norwich have only come out victorious in two of their last fifteen Premier League fixtures against Manchester United. Both were at Carrow Road (2005+2012)
Rafael da Silva-Rafael has often been criticised for the rashness in which he executes his defending however the young Brazilian has come on leaps and bounds this season with many suggesting he has even been the pick of Manchester United’s defenders. His string of impressive performances culminated in a superb goal scoring display at Loftus Road last weekend when Rafael hit the back of the net with a superbly struck volley twenty-five yards from goal. In this season’s Premier League Rafael has put to bed any notion of immature rashness with there being a huge 1,852 minutes between each of his defensive errors along with a successful tackle percentage of 71.23%.
Kamara in just his second Premier League appearance last weekend proved himself to be a real handful for defences in and around the penalty area due to his strength and aerial ability. His goal against Everton was a majestic display of pure physicality with his leap for the eventual on target header exceeding the height of any of the Everton defenders by far. This is something Manchester United will have to guard against on Saturday afternoon particularly with the defending of aerial crosses being a sore point for United’s defending this season. As a result it may well happen that Vidic will play on Saturday to counteract the height and jump of Kamara with Jonny Evans being preferred for Tuesday’s clash with Real Madrid. Kamara is expected to start against United with Chris Hughton stating he hopes he can cause United’s defence as many problems as he caused Everton’s last weekend.
Match Odds via bwin bets
£20 wins you:
Manchester United to win both halves: £54
Ryan Giggs to score 1st goal: £250
Becchio to score at any time: £13o
Norwich to win: £170
[box_light]All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.co.uk – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.[/box_light]