These two sides have both had poor starts of the season but for entirely different reasons. Norwich spent a lot of money on players in the summer and Chris Hughton is failing to mould them into a team. The pressure is building on Hughton as Norwich are languishing in the bottom three. He desperately needs to win on Saturday or he could become the third Premier League manager to lose his job this season. West Ham are lacking a Premier League striker which is causing a lack of goals. They desperately need Andy Carroll back or they could slip into the relegation fight.
Norwich have lost five of their last seven matches, but four of those were against Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City. The pressure of Hughton is unfair when you take that into consideration. Their biggest issue is that there appears to be no fight in the team as it’s unacceptable for a top flight team to lose 7-0, even against the quality of Manchester City. It is beyond doubt that this run of results has affected the confidence within the squad and last season’s attacking problems have yet to be solved as Norwich are the joint lowest goal scorers in the league with 6. After investing a lot of money in Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper, it’s something that needs to improve soon or big questions will be asked of Hughton and his coaching staff.
West Ham have started to use a 4-6-0 formation due to their lack of striking back up. Sam Allardyce obviously doesn’t feel that Modibo Maiga, Carlton Cole and Mladen Petric are good enough to lead the line for a Premier League team. Ricardo Vaz Te appears to be too lightweight to play centrally for West Ham given their direct style. He has preferred to play one of his midfielders in a ‘false nine’ role with Jack Collison, Ravel Morrison and Momo Diame all having time in that position. The club find themselves in 15th place but if it wasn’t for a freak result away at Tottenham, they would be below Norwich and perhaps it would be Allardyce under pressure.
The main difference between the two clubs is their defensive records. Norwich have conceded 20 goals which is 12 more than West Ham. Allardyce always has his teams well organised which is why he can afford to play with no strikers as he often only needs one goal to win a game. His midfielders will get chances and they just need to be more clinical. If they do then the new formation will start to grab wins. Players like Joe Cole, Ravel Morrison and Kevin Nolan can all score between 5-10 goals a season so it’s a possibility that they can nick 1-0 wins. They are also effective from set pieces with Winston Reid and James Collins capable of contributing with a few goals. Whereas Norwich need to score a lot more given their poor defensive record. It just appears that Allardyce is a lot more capable of getting points at the highest level than Hughton is.
Norwich’s three new strikers Van Wolfswinkel, Hooper and Johan Elmander have only managed 6 shots on target between them. This goes some way to explaining their poor goal tally.
West Ham have drawn four of their ten games 0-0. This is more than any other Premier League side. This highlights the strength of their defence and the issues they are having playing without a striker.
Leroy Fer has had a decent start to his Norwich career without catching the headlines. He has been effective all over the pitch in his role as a box-to-box midfielder. Occasionally he has been used in a more attacking role off the front man, but his defensive stats show how key he is for Norwich in their own half as well. He averages a tackle every 30 minutes with an impressive success rate of 85.19%. Moreover he has won 54% of his 100 ground 50-50s. The Dutch International is also effective in the final third as he has created 11 chances already, making a chance every 74 minutes. His pass completion is also very good as it is at 85.92%. These stats highlight how Fer is a complete midfielder who can pass, tackle and create chances. He could even prove to be the answer to Norwich’s attacking problems as he can create and score goals. Once he settles into the Premier League, he could become a real force to be reckoned with. He will be key on Saturday as West Ham often allow their opposition to have lots of possession so Fer will be given plenty of opportunities to unlock a tight Hammers’ defence.
West Ham desperately need somebody to start scoring goals and Kevin Nolan is the most obvious player to do so. He scored 10 goals last season, yet he has only managed one so far this campaign. He has only managed to put 2 of his 16 shots on target which is unusual given he is usual so clinical when chances come his way. His main problem has been that without Andy Carroll knocking the ball down to him, the 31-year-old is not getting many clear cut chances. He has only received one so far this season which was missed. Nolan could have won West Ham matches against Newcastle and Aston Villa this season but he missed a great chance in either game. The former Newcastle and Bolton player is so cool in front of goal that it is only a matter of time before he starts to score freely again, the West Ham fans will be hoping that his clinical touch returns at Norwich. Nolan will be key this weekend as West Ham will get chances given the frailties of the Norwich defence. If West Ham are to take three points away from struggling Norwich, he will need to take any chances that come his way.
Norwich hope to have wingers Robert Snodgrass and Nathan Redmond back for this match after having a concussion and a thigh injury respectively. Ricky van Wolfswinkel could also return after his ankle injury. Elliott Bennett (knee) and Alexander Tettey (high ankle sprain) will both miss out on Saturday’s clash. Hughton may make a few changes in response to the embarrassing 7-0 thrashing at Manchester City. Javier Garrido and Wes Hoolahan could return to the first team after watching the last week’s defeat from the bench.
West Ham have a lengthy injury list. The first choice centre back partnership of James Collins (hamstring) and Winston Reid (ankle) will be missing on Saturday. Youngster Dan Potts could debutise alongside James Tomkins. Matt Taylor, Ricardo Vaz Te and George McCartney are all likely to miss out, while Andy Carroll and Alou Diarra remian on the long term injury list. Mo Diame and Joe Cole will be pushing for a return to the starting eleven after only appearing as substitutes in West Ham’s last match against Aston Villa.
There is unlikely to be many goals in this match considering both side’s goal tallies so far. Norwich desperately need a win to keep their manager in a job and if they do pick up three points, they will overtake their opponents on Saturday. It’s a game that Norwich should be winning so the pressure is all on them. This will suit West Ham as they will have all of the pressure off them. I think the humiliation at Manchester City could seriously damage the belief of the Norwich players but I don’t think West Ham have the goal-scoring capabilities to punish Norwich. I think it will be a another boring draw for West Ham.