Manchester United will hope to continue their unbeaten run since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s departure when they take on Norwich City on Saturday.
The festive season is underway in England, and Gameweek 16 of the 2021/22 Premier League season is kicking off this weekend. As many as five matches will be on show on Saturday, with Norwich City and Manchester United bringing an end to the action on the day when they face off at Carrow Road.
Norwich City started the 2021/22 season in disastrous fashion, with their first win of the campaign coming in Daniel Farke’s last match in charge. Dean Smith has since replaced Farke at the helm at the club and has positively influenced the players. The Canaries have lost only one of the four games overseen by Smith, with that defeat coming last weekend against Tottenham Hotspur.
On the other hand, Manchester United’s form has been on an upswing since the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Red Devils have won three and drawn two of their five games in this period, with interim boss Ralf Rangnick taking charge of the last two fixtures. Most recently, Young Boys held his men to a 1-1 draw, a fair result in a game played by youngsters and second-string players.
Manchester United cruised to a 3-1 win over Norwich City the last time the two sides locked horns at Carrow Road. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
🗣 DS: We have got a couple of players who have knocks, and a couple of Covid issues, but we can't give names at the moment.
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) December 10, 2021
Dean Smith has new roster issues hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of Manchester United. On Saturday, the Norwich City manager will be bereft of the services of as many as nine first-team players due to injuries or illness.
Christoph Zimmermann (ankle), Mathias Normann (pelvis), Sam Byram (match fitness) and Milot Rashica (groin) remain on the sidelines, while Brandon Williams is ineligible to take on parent club Manchester United. In addition, four unnamed Norwich City players miss out after testing positive for COVID-19.
With the identity of the coronavirus-infected quartet unknown, we will name a starting eleven only keeping in mind the five players mentioned above. So, Tim Krul will take his place in goal, with Norwich City set to line up in a 3-5-2 formation against Manchester United.
Ozan Kabak, Ben Gibson and captain Grant Hanley will form the central defensive partnership, with Max Aarons and Dimitris Giannoulish filling in for Williams in the left wing-back slot. The two wing-backs will have the onus to provide width high up the pitch but will largely be asked to slot deep to create a back five in the defensive phases.
The three midfielders will be responsible for keeping a lid on Bruno Fernandes’s output, with Billy Gilmour particularly marking the Manchester United talisman. Pierre Lees-Melou and Kenny McLean will be the two box-to-box midfielders, with the duo being the workhorses in the middle of the park.
Finally, Teemu Pukki and Josh Sargent will likely form the strike partnership for Norwich City. Todd Cantwell could be a viable candidate to replace Sargent if Smith deems the USMNT international to not be the right player to torment the Manchester United defence.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Krul; Hanley, Kabak, Gibson; Aarons, Lees-Melou, Gilmour, McLean, Giannoulis; Sargent, Pukki
Unlike his counterpart in the Norwich City dugout, Ralf Rangnick has several pressing concerns to contend with ahead of the trip to Carrow Road. The Manchester United interim boss could have to make do without as many as five first-team players on Saturday.
Paul Pogba (hamstring) and Anthony Martial (knee) remain on the sidelines, while Nemanja Matic will miss out due to an illness. Aaron Wan-Bissaka is also expected to be unavailable after picking up a knee injury late in the game after smashing into an advertising board.
🔊 "We have top goalkeepers. David De Gea is number one and we have three, if not four or five good goalkeepers," adds Ralf.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 10, 2021
However, there is also some good news, as Edinson Cavani is available after recovering from a knock. However, the Uruguayan international will not feature from the get-go, with Rangnick likely to ease him back into action instead of throwing him into the deep end straight away.
So, Cristiano Ronaldo will spearhead the Manchester United attack, with Bruno Fernandes playing off his compatriot, reprising the no. 10 role. Out wide, Jadon Sancho is a certainty in one of the two wide-attacking slots. Mason Greenwood could take up the other position after impressing earlier this week against Young Boys.
Scott McTominay and Fred will form the double-pivot in midfield, with the latter again getting a lot of freedom to roam high up the pitch. Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire will line up in the central defensive partnership, with Diogo Dalot and Luke Shaw being the two full-backs. Finally, there is no looking past David de Gea between the sticks.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): de Gea; Dalot, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, Sancho; Ronaldo
- Manchester United have won on 11 of their last 13 visits to Norwich City’s Carrow Road in all competitions.
- Norwich have taken four points from two home games since Dean Smith became head coach, in contrast to one point out of a possible 15 at Carrow Road under Daniel Farke.
- Manchester United have conceded nine goals in their .ast four Premier League away fixtures, as many as in their previous 16 on the road.
- Norwich have failed to score in nine Premier League matches this season, more than any other side.
- Manchester United United are without a win in their last four Premier League matches against newly-promoted sides.
Player to Watch
Several players are tipped to have a new lease of life now that Ralf Rangnick is in charge of Manchester United. One such star is Jadon Sancho, who had made a slow start to life at Old Trafford with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the helm. However, the English international has shown signs of improvement in recent weeks, which is why he has earned his place in the attacking unit.
With Norwich City still being vulnerable at the back despite their recent resurgence in the defensive phases of the game, Sancho will be in business with his directness. Whether he can pose a great threat remains to be seen. A key game for the youngster.
Norwich City 0-2 Manchester United
As iterated, Norwich City might have shown improved signs at the back since Dean Smith’s appointment as the new manager. However, they are still ripe for the taking for Manchester United, who will be looking to beat their hosts to keep their top-four bid and faint Premier League title hopes alive.
Norwich City will also threaten in fits and parts, but Manchester United should successfully keep the Canaries at bay. On the opposite end, Cristiano Ronaldo should be in business, while Jadon Sancho will also make a lasting impact. Therefore, The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for Ralf Rangnick & co.