Having moved clear of the drop zone, Norwich City will be targeting a fourth victory in five Premier League outings when they make the trip to Staffordshire to take on mid-table Stoke City.
Victory over League One’s Doncaster Rovers was a welcome boost for Stoke, who were unfortunate to lose late on at West Bromwich Albion in their last top-flight game after their 10 men failed to deal fully with a goalmouth scramble. They then came up with a surprisingly off-colour performance in the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final against Liverpool, where they struggled to cope with their opponents’ high pressing and rarely found any real fluency.
In truth they looked a lot more balanced in that encounter after Jonathan Walters came on as a half-time substitute and he at least gave the likes of Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri some attacking freedom. The Irish international scored a fine winner at Doncaster and can certainly have every right to expect to start this one, where a lot will depend on whether the Potters can start strongly as they have done poorly this season when conceding the opening goal.
Premier League safety is clearly the main priority for the visitors, so they will not have been too disconsolate at being knocked out of the FA Cup in comprehensive fashion by Manchester City at the weekend. With the exception of the Boxing Day loss at Tottenham it has been a fine run, with back to back home wins secured for the first time this term and both with clean sheets, so the six point cushion they have now established above the bottom three should have them breathing a little easier.
The decisive moment of the Canaries’ last league match against Southampton was the introduction of loanee Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe, who proved too difficult to handle as he was the man fouled in the incident which led to the sending off of Victor Wanyama, while his dynamic play on the edge of the penalty area set up the only goal for Alexander Tettey. The Norway star now has two goals in his last four games, but here may find himself thinking more defensively.
Stoke are set to make several changes from the game at Doncaster, but Cameron is a major doubt along with fellow midfielder Stephen Ireland.
Matt Jarvis may be fit enough to make his first Norwich appearance since October after recovering from injury, but new signing Ivan Pinto will not feature.
Last Meeting: A long range shot from Jonathan Howson gave Norwich a rare away victory as they capitalised on an abysmal Stoke display which saw goalkeeper John Ruddy hardly worked all afternoon. The goal came after Ryan Bennett crashed a close range shot against the crossbar, with the rebound saved by Asmir Begovic.
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