Norwich City welcome Hull City to Carrow Road on Saturday with both teams looking to move up the table. Norwich currently sit in 15th place on twenty points, five places behind Hull in 10th place with twenty-three points. The Canaries are currently on a bad run of form, failing to win a Premier League game in their last six attempts. They now find themselves only two points above the relegation zone, knowing that if they lose and the teams below them win, they could be in the relegation zone by the end of the weekend. Hull have fared much better than most expected on their return to the Premier League. They find themselves in a strong mid-table position, but with only five points separating them from the relegation zone, they cannot afford to get complacent. A win against Norwich will affirm their 10th place position.
Norwich have no new injury problems going into the game. The Canaries will be without Michael Turner (Hamstring), Jonathan Howson (Back) and Elliot Bennett (Knee). Norwich should welcome Anthony Pilkington and Alexander Tettey back in the squad after suffering from hamstring and ankle injuries respectively.
Hull are still without forward Sone Aluko (Calf) who has been out for some time. They are also missing the match winner in the game between the two sides earlier in the season, Robbie Brady, who is out with a groin injury. Defender Joe Dudgeon is out until February with a knee injury.
Until earlier this season, the two teams had never met in the Premier League or any top division of English football. When they met earlier this season, Hull won 1-0 thanks to a Robbie Brady penalty for their first win of the season. This Hull win extended Norwich’s games without a win against the Tigers to five games. The Canaries last win against Hull came nearly seven years ago in the Championship when they won 2-1. Hull are unbeaten in their last three at Carrow Road. Their last defeat there came in September 2005. In all the 34 games between the two sides, there have only been two goalless meetings. The last time Hull completed the league double of Norwich was in the 1970/71 season.
Leroy Fer has done well adjusting to life in the Premier League. The midfielder’s combative style has and will be important for Norwich if they are to stay up. Fer has won the most tackles of any Norwich player with 48. He has also taken part in and won the most ground duels with 238 and 112 respectively. Fer is definitely the type of player that can be key in the relegation battle, lifting the crowd through his tenacious nature. He has also made the most passes for the team with 847 and has a very high passing accuracy of 84%. Fer has also created the joint most chances for Norwich from open play with 18. With only one assist, Fer will be hoping that his teammates are able to convert more of the chances that he creates for them. He will also want to add goals to his game, as he currently has the joint most shots on target for Norwich with 15 and a shot accuracy of 65%. If he can weigh in with some goals, he will be even more key to Norwich’s survival.
Tom Huddlestone has become the heartbeat of the Hull team since his move from Tottenham in the summer. Huddlestone has always been seen as a player to begin moves with his excellent passing range and technique and he has shone for Hull this season. He has attempted the most passes in his team with 1075, some one hundred clear of Ahmed Elmohamady, who is next with 936. He has also made the most passes in his own half with 491, and also the final third with 302. This shows that Huddlestone’s passing has been important for his team all over the pitch. Huddlestone has also been important defensively, an area he is not usually known for. He has won the most tackles for his team this season with 42, showing that passing is not the only thing he is capable of. Huddlestone’s performance will therefore be very important if Hull are to win this Saturday.
With the bad form that Norwich are in, it is becoming tough to see how they are to come out of this rut. If there is a game to change their recent fortunes, it would be this one, as a win will take them level on points with Hull, only behind the Tigers on goal difference. Despite their decent league position, Hull only have one win in their last eight league games. In terms of league wins, both teams are in similar form so it is a hard one to call. A 1-1 draw is my prediction for this game.