Norwich City will be intent on recording successive home wins for the first time this season when they take on Southampton, who have lost each of their last three away matches.
It took until the late stages of the game to gain the comfort of a second goal, but victory over bottom club Aston Villa last time out was richly deserved for Norwich as well as highly valuable, with only goal difference keeping them outside of the drop zone coming into it. It was a very polished defensive performance as the only threat towards their goal came from set-pieces, so that will surely bring confidence to a defensive unit for whom clean sheets have been at a premium since the club won promotion.
The return of Wes Hoolahan to the starting line-up predictably made a massive difference to their attacking play, with the Irishman giving a reminder of his fine creative talents by picking out a perfect cross for Dieumerci Mbokani to seal the victory. He is unlikely to be given as much time and space on the ball by Southampton, but he again represents the Canaries’ best chance of unlocking the away defence here and helping them to another important three point haul.
After such a fine performance swept title chasing Arsenal aside on Boxing Day, Southampton appeared set to be carrying on from where they left off as they totally dominated the first half of their encounter with West Ham United two days later. But they only had one goal to show for it and were punished after the break, with the centre-backs struggling to compete against the strength of Andy Carroll and the direct running of Michail Antonio, the latter resulting in a bizarre equaliser.
So to see the game turned on its head and to leave the capital with nothing will have been immensely frustrating, and the Saints continue to find themselves in the bottom half of what is a very competitive Premier League. The difference between this season and last is that they are now conceding more goals, despite having no shortage of options in defence and in holding midfield positions. As soon as they eradicate the mistakes, they should start picking up points regularly again.
Matt Jarvis is edging closer to a return for Norwich, but is not ready to feature in this one. They have no new injury concerns.
Graziano Pelle faces a race against time to be fit for Southampton, who are without midfielder Oriol Romeu after he picked up his fifth booking of the season at West Ham.
Last Meeting: A powerful low shot from distance by Nathan Redmond was enough for Norwich to claim all three points and condemn the visitors to their first defeat of the 2013-14 season. The England U-21 international netted midway through the second half to settle a close game which saw Adam Lallana hit the post for Southampton, who also had a strong penalty appeal rejected.
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