Now top of the Premier League only on goal difference, Manchester City come up against a Norwich City side that conceded seven the last time they visited the Etihad Stadium.
The leaders perhaps came away slightly the happier after a desperately dull Manchester derby, which ended goalless as few chances were created by two teams who made avoiding defeat their main priority. It was a rare departure from Manuel Pellegrini from his usual attacking style, but he gained reward as his two central defenders remained secure throughout, with Nicolas Otamendi outstanding alongside skipper Vincent Kompany, who had been restored to the starting XI.
Going forward they were a rather blunt force, with the absences of Sergio Aguero and David Silva clearly felt. Wingers Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling struggled to make any impact upon proceedings, but this encounter should suit them better, with Norwich having looked extremely weak in the wide areas over recent matches. Meanwhile, Yaya Toure will be looking to end his personal goal drought, which now stands at 13 games.
If Norwich’s last away performance is anything to go by, then they will have to set up the barricades if they are to stand a chance of making this game a contest. That 6-2 loss at Newcastle United was an afternoon to forget, and the manner of their latest setback at home to West Bromwich Albion last weekend showed they had not properly learned their lessons, despite manager Alex Neil making several changes to his line-up.
It led to strong start as they put some pressure on inside the first 20 minutes, but faded badly and in the end it was only Albion’s wastefulness in front of goal which prevented the Canaries from losing by more as they allowed crosses to rain into their penalty area. After a reasonable start they have hit a rocky period, which will test the young Scottish manager’s resolve, and a heavy defeat here will continue their slide towards the bottom three.
Pablo Zabaleta is out for Manchester City after picking up ligament damage. The injury list also comprises Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri and Fabian Delph.
Norwich are likely to be without Dieumerci Mbokani due to illness and Andre Wisdom is sidelined with a knee problem, but Youssouf Mulumbu is back available.
Last Meeting: Man City scored buckets of goals in their last title-winning season, but the 7-0 thrashing of Norwich in November 2013 was their most convincing success. It was 3-0 after just 25 minutes as own goals from Bradley Johnson and Russell Martin came either side of a David Silva strike, with Alvaro Negredo then adding the fourth. After the break, the rout was sealed by Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko.
Played for both – Darren Huckerby: The much-travelled forward spent three seasons with Man City after the turn of the century, experiencing a promotion and a relegation and making a total of 29 Premier League appearances, scoring twice. He is best known for his stay at Norwich, however, with his only top-flight season while at the club coming in 2004-05, during which he netted on six occasions.
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