Following a dismal run of five straight defeats, Norwich City will be desperate to begin turning things around with victory over a West Ham United side that has qualification for Europe in their sights.
With the exception of a couple of promising moments where striker Dieumerci Mbokani looked mildly threatening, the Canaries were very poor once again last time out as they lost worryingly comfortably to bottom club Aston Villa, a result that also saw them slip into the bottom three. Therefore, this has now turned into a must-win game and manager Alex Neil will surely be demanding a lot more from his players, particularly a defence that continues to ship goals.
Sebastian Bassong has appeared in every Premier League match this season, but he is finding the going tough at present and things will not get any easier against a side in West Ham that has an array of attacking talent and versatility. The Cameroon international has his work cut out as he prepares to deal with Enner Valencia and Andy Carroll, and his role is all the more crucial as the threat that Norwich carry going forward can only be effective if supplemented by strong defensive foundations.
There was frustration for West Ham boss Slaven Bilic last weekend at Southampton as his side struggled to get out of the blocks early on and fell behind to a goal that would eventually decide the game despite seeing their opponents reduced to 10 men and dominating much of the second half possession. Of the few chances that came their way against a determined rearguard, recent loan signing Emmanuel Emenike missed the best of them as he headed wide when well placed.
But they will come into this one with renewed buoyancy after they dramatically overcame Liverpool in Tuesday’s replay to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup, momentum that they will surely take with them to Carrow Road. They will be a touch concerned at the number of chances were created against them on the night, but one cannot fail to be enthralled by the Hammers’ attacking play as Valencia’s dynamism caused numerous problems and Mark Noble was influential again in the middle of the park.
Alexander Tettey completes a two-match ban for Norwich, who are also without the injured Andre Wisdom. However, Graham Dorrans returns following a bout of illness.
West Ham’s FA Cup win came at a cost, as they have doubts over Cheikhou Kouyate and Winston Reid. Defender Sam Byram returns after being unavailable for that game, as does Alexandre Song.
Last Meeting: Norwich recovered from going a goal behind in the first half to a record a morale-boosting 3-1 victory over their fellow strugglers in November 2013. Ravel Morrison deservedly put the visitors ahead from close range, but Norwich were a totally different proposition after the break as a penalty from Gary Hooper and Robert Snodgrass’ brilliant free-kick turned things around, before the win was sealed in stoppage time by Leroy Fer’s low shot.