These teams are still far from secure in the Premier League, therefore this match offers them both a chance to climb the table and move away from the relegation zone. There are several ‘six pointers’ left in the season at both ends of the table and this is certainly one of them, as both teams will be confident they can secure three points this weekend.
The two clubs have taken different approaches this season, with Norwich sticking with Chris Hughton, despite a lot of people suggesting a managerial change would benefit the club, while West Brom chose to appoint Pepe Mel in place of Steve Clarke. It’s yet to be seen if the clubs were correct in their choice. Neither manager is secure in their post with both needing a strong finish to ensure they remain in charge for next season.
Norwich are currently 15th with a six point cushion on the relegation zone, albeit some teams below them have games in hand. The Canaries know this is a must win game for them, as they have the toughest run in, out of the teams in the relegation fight, with their final four games being against Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal. It will be difficult for them to take any points from these matches on paper. Despite Crystal Palace’s shock win against Chelsea, Norwich will still be aiming to secure two wins against West Brom and Fulham, as in theory these matches will be easier for the Canaries. They were so poor in their recent 3-0 defeat at Swansea that the players have chosen to reimburse the fans that made the trip. Chris Hughton will know that his side need to be better this weekend, but he will be confident of getting a win given Norwich’s impressive home form of late.
Although West Brom managed to get a point last weekend against Cardiff, the ending of the match could have huge implications for the rest of their season. They conceded a very late equaliser against fellow relegation strugglers Cardiff, which resulted in some alleged ugly scenes in the dressing room. They remain only three points clear of the drop zone, but a defeat at Norwich would be a very big blow to their survival hopes. Pepe Mel will be hopeful that the team morale isn’t damaged too much from last weekend as any discontent in the dressing room will impact the side’s performance. Their run in is far from simple as they face matches against Tottenham, Manchester City and Arsenal in their final 7 matches, which makes avoiding defeat this weekend even more important.
In their previous meeting this season, Norwich took three points away from West Brom with a 2-0 away win. Gary Hooper and Leroy Fer grabbed the goals on that occasion. In the corresponding fixture last season, Norwich ran out comfortable 4-0 winners at Carrow Road. Robert Snodgrass, Grant Holt, Gareth McAuley (og) and Jonny Howson were on the scoresheet that day.
Since the turn of the year, Norwich have yet to lose at Carrow Road in six Premier League matches. This included draws against Newcastle and Manchester City, as well as a win against Tottenham. This suggests they will prove to be a tough proposition for West Brom this weekend.
West Brom have won the least amount of matches in the Premier League this season with only 5. They need to turn draws into wins to ensure their Premier League status, as draws are unlikely to be enough to keep them in the top flight.
Robert Snodgrass has become an integral part of the Norwich side since joining from Leeds. He has scored five goals this season in a side that have struggled to score, making the winger one of the main goal-threats in the side, scoring more than Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Johan Elmander. Chris Hughton likes to play with two functional wingers who work hard both defensively and offensively, Snodgrass does that. He has created 58 chances, which is one every 35 minutes. Although he only has two assists to his name, he offers the side creativity, and is especially dangerous from set pieces. He will prove to be a danger to West Brom this weekend, particularly in the final third as he has the ability to put in dangerous crosses as his 24% crossing accuracy shows. West Brom are vulnerable in the full back areas, which will encourage Norwich to play up the flanks, especially utilising Snodgrass as he is probably their most influential winger.
Morgan Amalfitano has showed glimpses of his ability since joining the club on loan, including his brilliant goal last weekend against Cardiff, and maybe that will give him the impetus he needs to finish the season strongly. The winger is a very talented dribbler of the ball, who can also put in a very dangerous delivery, with 28% of his crosses finding a team-mate. He only has two assists, but he has created a chance every 42 minutes. The Frenchman has been in and out of the side all season, but he has the experience and ability to play a key part in guiding West Brom to safety. Norwich are a solid team, especially at home, but Amalfitano has the trickery to cause them problems and the quality to produce a goal for his side. He needs a strong finish to the season in order to secure a move to West Brom or generate interest from other clubs across Europe, which makes this weekend and the following six matches very important for his career.
Michael Turner and Elliott Bennett are touch and go for the match on Saturday as they continue their recoveries from injury. Leroy Fer is not expected to return to action until next week, which will be a huge miss for Norwich as he has proven key for them this year. Joseph Yobo remains a doubt. It’s yet to be seen if Ricky van Wolfswinkel remains in the side, or if Hughton opts to play Gary Hooper.
West Brom may be boosted by the return of Victor Anichebe who could make his comeback this weekend. Chris Brunt, Claudio Yacob and Billy Jones are all expected to miss the match, but they could return next week. Saido Berahino is expected to be in the squad, despite the dressing room bust up last weekend.
I expect it to be a very tight game with few goals as neither team will be committed to attack as it’s more important to not lose these games rather than to win them. Norwich are strong at home, therefore I think they will edge the game, especially as they are strong defensively at Carrow Road. West Brom may still be suffering from last weekend’s dressing room bust up.