Both Norwich City and Manchester United are in a proper scrap to meet their respective targets in their last three games of the season.
While Norwich are trying to avoid relegation, Manchester United are fighting to get themselves into the top four, which will ensure Champions League qualification for the next season. One common aspect for both the sides is that they are currently behind their respective targets.
Norwich find themselves behind the two North East clubs Newcastle and Sunderland in the table, but can move ahead of them if they can complete the league double over Manchester United on Saturday.
Manchester United, on the other hand, are agonisingly close to a top four finish, being just four points behind cross town rivals Manchester City, wit a game in hand.
Team News & Tactics
The Canaries are facing some real issues with their squad in this game against Norwich, as centreback Ryan Bennet is doubtful for the match. He could not take part in last week’s game against Arsenal due to an illness. Manager Alex Neil has confirmed that Bennett hasn’t recovered from the illness, and will face a late fitness test ahead of the match to determine whether he can play.
To compound their problems, centreback Timm Klose and fullback Andre Wisdom have also been ruled out of the game due to knee injuries. Also, midfielder Alex Tettey, who scored the winning goal against Manchester United in their last match, has been ruled out of the match due to an ankle injury.
Manager Neil has changed his philosophy about the game over the course of his debut season in the Premier League. We now get to see a Norwich side that is much more defensively organised, and try to hit their opponents on the counter attacks.
Even this approach has not been getting them the results of late, as they are currently on a three match losing streak. However, they did show some promise on the counter against Arsenal, which will give them some hope.
Probable Starting XI (4-4-1-1): Ruddy; Olson, Bassong, Martin, Pinto; Brady, Howson, O’Niel, Redmond; Hoolahan; Mbokani.
Manager Louis van Gaal also has a few big absentees from his squad, with the most prominent being midfielder Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian has been handed a three match ban for attempting to elbow Leicester City defender Robert Huth twice during last weekend’s game.
Fellaini’s absence could be a huge blow for Manchester United. Although he has been heavily criticised, Fellaini has actually added another dimension to Manchester United’s attacks by playing as a target man at times. He can bully the defenders with his height, and aerial balls become a very good option for United when he is on the pitch.
As a replacement for Fellaini, Ander Herrera or Juan Mata could be brought into the starting XI. The inclusion of either of these two players will of course give Manchester United more creativity in the middle of the park, but it will also take away their aerial threat.
Morgan Schneiderlin is expected to play in the key holding midfield role in Louis van Gaal’s 4-1-4-1 formation, as the Dutchman looks to rest Michael Carrick ahead of the crucial weekend fixture against West Ham.
Wayne Rooney is set to start in the central midfield role yet again. The Red Devils’s captain has been in poor form up front in the earlier parts of the season, but Van Gaal seems to have found a new role where he can prosper. Surprisingly, the England international has been playing quite well in his new position, and could trouble Norwich with his industriousness.
Possible Starting XI (4-1-4-1): De Gea; Borthwick-Jackson, Blind, Smalling, Valencia; Schneiderlin; Martial, Herrera, Rooney, Lingard; Rashford.
- Norwich have been unable to score in seven of their last nine matches in the Premier League.
- Norwich are on a three match losing streak in the Premier League at the moment.
- Norwich have conceded two or more goals in six of their last seven matches at the Carrow Road.
- Manchester United have kept two clean sheets in their last five Premier League matches.
- The Red Devils have scored six times in their last five matches in the league.
Players to watch out for
Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City)
With a number of key players out injured, Norwich will be looking up to their playmaker-in-chief Wes Hoolahan to inspire them to a second win over Manchester United this season. Hoolahan can rip apart defences on his day. He has scored four goals and provided eight assists so far this season, playing in the No.10 role behind Dieumerci Mbokami.
Anthony Martial (Manchester United)
The young Frenchman is on a great run of form going into the last three matches this season, and could play a crucial role in getting Manchester United back into the top four of the Premier League. Martial has had to adjust to playing out wide under Van Gaal, but it seems that he has started to grasp the role well, scoring two goals and also providing an assist in his last two matches.
Norwich City 0-1 Manchester United
These are dark days for Norwich as they are staring at relegation this season. Although Manchester United are not exactly playing great football at the moment, they are managing to grind out the results, something that they are expected to do against the relegation-threatened side. A win against Norwich will really pile the pressure on Manchester City, who have a difficult fixture against Arsenal on Sunday.
Blast from the past