Two sides, who had a weekend off after crashing out to Premier League rivals in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, face-off against each other this Tuesday as Norwich City host Newcastle United.
Norwich are one of the 10 teams in the Premier League that are wary of relegation being a possibility this season. Erratic form has engulfed their season – a league win has often been followed with several defeats – and despite a massively important win against Hull City last weekend, Norwich look in need of reinforcements before Friday’s deadline.
After a surge up the table in the late months of 2013 with 7 wins in 9 matches, Newcastle’s form has taken a drop as last week’s victory over West Ham was their first for 4 games. The North-east club are still comfortably in the top half of the table though, 12 points separates them from 10th place Aston Villa, and with rumours of the club wanting to avoid the Europa League, a mid-table finish beckons.
A player who has impressed fans and neutrals alike, the form of Leroy Fer has dropped in recent weeks as the amount of game time takes its toll on the 24-year old, who faces the same difficulties many face in their first season with adapting to the physical demands of the Premier League on a weekly basis.
Fer has a big presence in the middle of the park though when he is on his game – highest tackles (49) and ground duels (116) won for Norwich – and without Howson in the side is the main passer in midfield completing 757 passes so far this season. If the Dutch midfielder can replicate another dominating performance on Tuesday night, then Norwich will have a chance of picking up some points.
It’s not surprising that Remy’s goal scoring run – 8 goals in 9 games – coincided with Newcastle’s impressive run of form and duly finished around the same time. This shows the pressures that lay on Remy with other central strikers (Yoan Gouffran plays in a wider position) failing to find the net on more than one occasion – Ameobi is goalless, while Cisse’s solitary goal came from the penalty spot.
Counter-attacking football has worked well for Newcastle this season and the pace Remy offers against a Norwich defence who aren’t the quickest could offer some joy. After scoring last weekend against West Ham, Remy took his total record to 11 goals for the season and a decent conversion rate of 24%. If the ball falls to the Frenchman in the box, there’s a good chance he will put the ball in the back of the net.
Scoring has been an issue for Norwich this season and the table represents this – 18 goals is the 3rd worst in the league and is less than a goal a game (0.80).
Since returning to the Premier League in 2012, Norwich are unbeaten against Newcastle in their two home games.
John Ruddy has had more errors than any other player this season (8) with 3 leading to goals for the opposition. Surprisingly, his highly-rated counterpart Tim Krul has made 5 errors this season with 2 resulting in a goal.
After 11 games, Newcastle have yet to draw away from home in the league this season.
Despite Remy grabbing the headlines, Yoan Gouffran has the 6th best chance conversion rate (by players with over 10 shots) in the league with 32%.
New signing Jonas Gutierrez is unavailable due to loan rules between Premier League clubs and he’ll be joined on the sidelines by Michael Turner (Hamstring) and Jonny Howson (Back).
Newcastle have no new injury concerns, but Bigirimana (Foot) and Coloccini (Knee Ligament) are both still recovering from their respective injuries.
Chris Hughton will hope Norwich can finally kick on after a victory against Hull unlike on previous occasions this season and the transfer interest in Cabaye could play into their favour. Overall though, Newcastle should have the quality to see off Norwich and make the long midweek journey to Norfolk worthwhile.