The odds are beginning to go against Norwich City in their battle to survive relegation from the Premier League, so victory in Saturday’s early kick-off against Manchester United will act as a timely boost as well as a pivotal result.
There was every reason for manager Alex Neil to be extremely pleased with Norwich’s performance in their most recent outing at Arsenal, but we have reached a point in the season where results are much more important and some very good chances went to waste as they fell to a single goal defeat. With Cameron Jerome winning his fair share in the aerial battle, it was Nathan Redmond who could not find the finish on two occasions where it mattered most.
Two home matches in the space of five days are likely to decide the Canaries’ fate, so Neil will hardly need to underline the importance of them to a squad that is getting increasingly written off. If they can play the same way as they did in North London, or indeed at Old Trafford when they beat United in the reverse fixture, they should have any reason to be confident of picking up a good result, provided that such promise can be matched with a clinical edge in front of goal.
It must not be forgotten that there is also plenty at stake for the visitors, who have three games left to overhaul the four-point gap between themselves and bitter rivals Manchester City in the race for a place in next season’s Champions League. A home draw with a Leicester City side that has since been crowned champions did their chances of doing so little good, but like his Norwich counterpart, boss Louis van Gaal was full of praise for the way his team performed.
It was certainly one of the best first halves produced by the Red Devils for some time, as they came firing out of the blocks to play with the pace and purpose for which the club is so renowned, going ahead only to concede a cheap equaliser from a set-piece. The scoreline stayed the same, but it was match that saw young winger Jesse Lingard again prove his growing importance to the side. He has impressed just as much as his more coveted teammate Anthony Martial in recent weeks.
Timm Klose and Alexander Tettey are still unavailable for Norwich, who are waiting on the fitness of defender Ryan Bennett.
Man Utd are without the suspended Marouane Fellaini, while Luke Shaw and Bastian Schweinsteiger are long-term absentees.
Last Meeting: Man Utd’s best run during the disappointing tenure of David Moyes came in December 2013, which culminated in victory at Carrow Road. The scorer of the only goal was Danny Welbeck, who rounded goalkeeper John Ruddy to tuck the ball into the net after the ball fell his way inside the penalty area. In the first half, Norwich had seen efforts from Russell Martin and Gary Hooper saved by David De Gea.