On March 22nd, Sunderland travel to Carrow Road to take on Norwich City. Both teams come into the game desperate for points in the hopes of avoiding relegation. With Norwich hovering just outside the relegation zone, Chris Houghton will want his side to grab the three points to put some space between themselves and the relegation zone. Sunderland will try to move out of the relegation zone with three points against the Canaries.
Sunderland don’t have too many injuries to deal with but they do have to deal with an injury to their top striker, Steven Fletcher, who has been ruled out. Sunderland will also be without their backup goalkeeper, Kieran Westwood.
Norwich will be without Leroy Fer, Michael Turner, and Elliot Bennett. January loan signing, Jonas Gutierrez, will be a game time decision with a calf injury.
The last time these two teams faced off they played to a 0-0 draw. The two teams have met 10 times since 2003. In those 10 games, both Norwich and Sunderland have four wins. Norwich have the best home defensive record of all teams outside of the top six. The Canaries also share the worst home goal scoring record.
With a crucial three points on the line, Norwich will need to get some extra creativity out of their squad. One man who can bring that creativity is Robert Snodgrass. Snodgrass creates a chance every 71 minutes from a set piece, the best in the league. He creates a chance every 36 minutes, 10th in the league. The Scottish international also completes 25% of his crosses, and his ability to whip good balls into the box provides big money strikers, Gary Hooper and Ricky Van Wolfswinkel, the service they need to succeed. Snodgrass can also pop up with a goal himself, and is the Canaries’ second leading scorer with four goals and has converted 40% of his clear cut chances. He has the touch of class to create or score goals. That class could help Norwich grab a crucial three points in their quest to stay in the Premier League.
One of the underrated signings of the summer has been the loan signing of Ki by Sunderland. Ki has been a revelation in the Sunderland midfield and has played a crucial part in getting Sunderland off the bottom of the table. He retains the ball extremely well losing possession only every 12 minutes and completes 90% of his passes and can also win the ball back every 17 minutes. His ability to retain and win possession helps Gus Poyet install his possession-based style. Ki’s extra ability has helped lift Sunderland off the bottom of the table and gives them a chance of survival. A three points against Norwich could go a long way to Sunderland’s survival.
This is a huge relegation six pointer where neither team can afford to lose. Norwich may be four points above the relegation zone but they have played more games than the teams around them and can not afford to drop any points to other teams threatened by relegation. Sunderland are on the other end of the spectrum and have three games in hand due to their runs in the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup. With Norwich’s strong defensive record at home and their abysmal goal scoring record you can expect a low scoring game. Chris Houghton seems to have a knack for getting his team to perform with his job on the line so I’m gonna pick Norwich to squeeze out a victory.