Manchester City will be hoping to bounce back to winning ways when they lock horns with Norwich City in the 2021/22 Premier League this weekend.

Reigning champions Manchester City made a poor start to the defence of their Premier League title and will be aiming to get things back on track when they host newly-promoted Norwich City at the Etihad Stadium in Matchweek 2 of the 2021/22 Premier League on Saturday.

Kicking things off with a trip away to north London, Pep Guardiola’s champions fell to a shock 1-0 defeat to a disciplined Tottenham Hotspur side, who were without their best player and City’s transfer target, Harry Kane, for the contest. It was yet another wake-up call for the Sky Blues who also lost to Leicester City in the FA Community Shield clash, and they will now be charged to get back to winning ways.

As for Norwich City, their return to the Premier League after winning the EFL Championship last season did not go as per plans, as they were put to the sword by Liverpool on the opening day at Carrow Road. Things are unlikely to let up for Daniel Farke & co. when they travel to the home of the champions this weekend, having been trounced 5-0 by the Cityzens the last time they visited the Etihad Stadium.

Heading into the game, both Manchester City and Norwich are in the bottom half of the table, among the ten teams that failed to pick up a point on a stunning first matchweek last time out. And as they look to open their account for the new season, The Hard Tackle now takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester City

Foden is set to miss out for Manchester City. (Photo by Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

Foden is set to miss out for Manchester City. (Photo by Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

Manchester City will once again have to make do without the services of Phil Foden due to an injury while Kevin De Bruyne could also miss out after not training with the team on Friday. Other than that, Pep Guardiola has a full squad available at his disposal, but there could certainly be some changes made to the side that lost last time out.

Ederson Moraes is expected to line up between the sticks, but there are likely to be changes made to the backline, with John Stones expected to come in place of Nathan Ake to partner Ruben Dias while Benjamin Mendy, who was poor in the defeat to Tottenham, should make way for Oleksandr Zinchenko. Kyle Walker will be lining up at right-back as usual, trying to offer a pacy outlet on the overlap.

With Ilkay Gundogan recovering from his shoulder injury, him and Fernandinho should start again in the middle of the park, forming the double pivot, club-record signing Jack Grealish ought to be lining up as the No. 10, although he will have the freedom to drift across inside the final third and wreak havoc.

With Bernardo Silva’s future up in the air, it is unlikely he will be featuring from the start. As such, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling ought to be Guardiola’s go-to men on the flanks again. And the onus will be on them to try and breach the Norwich defence. Ferran Torres started as the centre-forward last time out but should make way for a more natural striker in Gabriel Jesus when the Canaries come visiting.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko; Fernandinho, Rodri; Mahrez, Grealish, Sterling; Jesus

Norwich City

Norwich City, meanwhile, have a few issues with regard to their squad as Onel Hernandez, Jordan Hugill and Przemyslaw Placheta are all recovering from the coronavirus and miss out. Andrew Omobamidele is also a doubt as he missed parts of pre-season due to illness while Sam Byram remains a long-term injury absentee.

Despite the loss to Liverpool, Daniel Farke is unlikely to make any drastic changes to the team that took the field in the season opener, with Tim Krul again lining up between the sticks shielded by the centre-back pairing of Grant Hanley and Ben Gibson. Max Aarons and new signing Dimitris Giannoulis should be the two full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively.

While Norwich try to take the game and play without changing their style much even against the big teams, keeping their defensive discipline and trying to hit Manchester City on the break may well be their best bet, as Tottenham showed last weekend.

The role of loanee Billy Gilmour also becomes crucial for the Canaries, as he will need to shield the backline while keeping a close watch on Jack Grealish. Gilmour will have support from new signing Pierre Lees Melou while the third slot in the middle of the park is likely to be taken up by Lukas Rupp.

Todd Cantwell, who continues to be linked with Aston Villa, will again line up on the right flank while Milot Rashica will be lining up on the left, from where the duo will not only look to create chances for Teemu Pukki but offer a goal threat themselves.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Krul; Aarons, Hanley, Gibson, Giannoulis; Lees Melou, Gilmour, Rupp; Cantwell, Pukki, Rashica

Key Stats

  • Manchester City have won their last three home Premier League games against Norwich City with an aggregate scoreline of 14-1, beating them 5-0 in the most recent such meeting.
  • Norwich City have managed to beat Manchester City in just two of their last 31 away meetings (D7 L22) across all competitions, with the last such victory coming way back in 2013.
  • Manchester City have lost their last three matches in all competitions without scoring a single goal. In his entire managerial career, Pep Guardiola has never lost four consecutive games, nor seen his side go four games in a row without scoring.
  • Norwich City have lost their last 11 Premier League matches. Only Sunderland (20) have ever had a longer losing run in the competition. The Canaries have failed to find the back of the net in ten of these 11 games.
  • Kevin De Bruyne has been involved in five goals in four appearances against Norwich City in all competitions (3 goals, 2 assists).

Player to Watch

Jack Grealish

The 25-year-old has been the talk of the town in England this summer following his British record transfer to Manchester City. However, following the switch from Aston Villa, Grealish hasn’t had the easiest of starts to life at his new club. He was underwhelming after coming on as a substitute in the Community Shield defeat while he failed to show his qualities in the loss to Tottenham as well.

Up against a Norwich City side that was given all sorts of trouble by Liverpool last time out, the England international will fancy his chances. The possibility of him and Raheem Sterling linking up in the left-side channel can be a huge threat for the opposition, although, both will need to show a major improvement from their display last weekend.

Prediction

Manchester City 3-0 Norwich City

It has been a shoddy start to the season for the champions of England, what with the defeats in two back-to-back games. Norwich City, meanwhile, have been handed the toughest draw, having had to face Liverpool in the opener before having to face a Manchester City, who are like a wounded tiger ready to pounce.

Norwich, as mentioned earlier, do not really tend to change their approach against the best teams, which could leave them susceptible against their hosts, who despite lacking some sharpness in attack, possess an abundance of quality. That is why, The Hard Tackle is backing Pep Guardiola & co. to return to winning ways, with Jack Grealish coming to the party this weekend.

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