With fears of an immediate return to the Championship increasing after each passing defeat, Norwich City will be desperate to gain some much-needed cheer as they host a Manchester City side that still has designs on winning the title.
An inferiority in both boxes has been a major contributing factor in Norwich’s dismal slide, and that was the case again in their last match at Swansea City as they suffered a defeat which makes it look as though the bottom four are now vying for 17th place, such is the gap that exists between them and the rest. Alex Neil’s side were well in the game in South Wales, but were caught out defensively for the decisive goal and failed to make the most of several promising situations at the other end.
The main problem for the Canaries this season has been that they have conceded far too many goals and defensive reinforcements brought to the club in January have not had the desired effect. Timm Klose and Ivo Pinto are now part of the defensive line, but it has generally been a rude awakening for both of them as they look to adapt to Premier League football – and a relegation scarp at that. It will not get any easier here against a Man City side that is capable of putting any team to the sword.
Having come into their encounter with Aston Villa off the back of their own bad run of three successive losses in the Premier League, Man City took until the second half of their game to open the scoring against the bottom club, eventually making the most of their territorial dominance to record what turned out to be one of their easiest wins of the campaign. It was a chance for David Silva and Sergio Aguero to regain a fluency and understanding which has not been so much in evidence of late, but the partnership blossomed again, albeit in the face of very limited opposition.
It is unlikely to be as comfortable for the Capital One Cup winners here as they face a team which is playing with spirit and determination, but it would be a big surprise if the visitors did not come away with all three points as their attacking quality should have too much for an ailing backline, while on paper the midfield battle looks set to be something of a mismatch. Although they have a game in hand, dropped points here may prove terminal to Man City’s title hopes as they are already some 10 points off top spot.
Alexander Tettey is out for the rest of the season for Norwich, who are waiting on the fitness of key duo Robbie Brady and Steven Naismith.
Man City are unable to call upon Yaya Toure due to a heel injury, while they remain without Fabian Delph and Samir Nasri.
Last Meeting: The only goalless draw of Man City’s title winning season in 2013-14 came at Carrow Road as the struggling hosts defended stoutly to claim a point. There were few chances in the game with Alvaro Negredo seeing his header come back off the crossbar, but it was Norwich who came closest to winning it towards the end as Ricky van Wolfswinkel was millimetres away from turning in Nathan Redmond’s cross.