Relegation-threatened Norwich City travel to London to face an in-form West Ham United side looking to move into the top four with a win.

David Moyes will be eager to see his team in the top four of the Premier League again as he eyes a win over struggling Norwich City. After superb early season form, the Hammers, once considered the favourites for a Champions League place, have endured a difficult few months due to important injuries and a loss in momentum.

Their nearest contenders for the Champions League position are Arsenal, who currently sit a point above in fourth place, and Tottenham, who are just a point behind the Hammers in sixth. After enduring a three-game winless run in December, West Ham ended 2021 with a victory over Watford.

They then began the new year with a tough victory over London rivals Crystal Palace, which has kept them in the hunt for the fourth spot. They also dispatched Leeds United in their FA Cup third-round encounter 2-0, and now will look forward to a similar result against Norwich, which will take them into the top four temporarily. With nearest rivals Arsenal and Spurs playing at the weekend, they need to keep the pressure on those sides.

On the other hand, Norwich ended 2021 in a similar fashion to how they started the current Premier League season. Crystal Palace were the beneficiary on the 28th of December, winning with a 3-0 scoreline against the Canaries. While their first game of 2022 with Leicester was postponed due to Covid problems, Dean Smith’s men recorded a victory against Charlton to advance in the FA Cup.

Embed from Getty Images//

While the narrow win might have given them a morale boost heading into the West Ham game, Smith’s men need a drastic turnaround in their form if they wish to avoid relegation. They currently sit three points adrift of safety and at the very bottom of the Premier League table. The signs are not great for Norwich, and this could be another one of those clashes where they leave empty-handed.

Team News & Tactics

West Ham United

David Moyes will thoroughly assess his squad ahead of the game after playing a near full-strength team against Leeds in the FA Cup. Some existing problems include injury absentees Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell and Kurt Zouma.

Embed from Getty Images//

Vladimir Coufal could also be back after a bout with illness. Moyes might hand Arthur Masuaku a start at left-back if the Czech fails to recover, with Ben Johnson moving to right-back. Said Benrahma remains with Algeria at the AFCON and hence absent for this clash with the Canaries.

Nikola Vlasic could also make way for Pablo Fornals to enter the fray, while Manuel Lanzini is set to keep his place after an impressive run of form for the Hammers. The Argentine will have Jarrod Bowen and Fornals on either side of him, with Michail Antonio leading the line for the team.

Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek could be the preferred midfield pairing, while Issa Diop and Craig Dawson remain the available central defensive pairing to Moyes.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1)Fabianski; Johnson, Dawson, Diop, Masuaku; Soucek, Rice; Bowen, Lanzini, Fornals; Antonio

Norwich City

Sitting at the bottom of the table, Norwich have multiple injuries and absentees to deal with. As many as six first-team players could miss this trip to London. Christoph Zimmermann, Lukas Rupp, Mathias Normann, Andrew Omobamidele, Billy Gilmour and Todd Cantwell are all potential absentees, with the latter likely to leave the club.

Embed from Getty Images//

Smith saw the returns of Grant Hanley and Dimitrios Giannoulis against Charlton, and the former could be handed a start against the Hammers. There could be further shuffling at the back as Ozan Kabak might be demoted to the bench in favour of Ben Gibson.

Brandon Williams could also return and take his place at left-back, with Max Aarons firmly established on the right side. Kenny McLean, Jacob Sorensen and Pierre Lees-Melou could form the central midfield trio for Norwich.

Up front, Teemu Pukki will be eager to start and lead the line for the Canaries. The Finnish forward will have Kieran Dowell and Christos Tzolis on either side of the attacking three.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3)Krul; Aarons, Hanley, Gibson, Williams; Lees-Melou, Sorensen, McLean; Dowell, Pukki, Tzolis

Key Stats

  • West Ham United have scored in each of their home games this season in the Premier League.
  • West Ham have scored at least 2 goals in each of their last 4 matches against Norwich and remain undefeated in 6 home games against the Canaries in all competitions.
  • Norwich City have failed to score in 9 of their last 11 away games in the Premier League.
  • Norwich City have the worst away goalscoring record in the division with only 3 goals all season on the road.
  • Norwich have lost their last five Premier League matches.

Player to Watch

Manuel Lanzini

The Argentine seemed like a forgotten man when the Hammers were doing extremely well and looked contenders for the top four. However, since the Chelsea game, Lanzini has looked like a different player altogether and has been putting up consistent performances for Moyes’ team. His three goals in the last two games are a testament to his growing importance in the group, which should continue.

In their attack, the Argentine needs to become the torchbearer of sorts and produce some more consistent displays to help the Hammers cement a top-four place, starting with Wednesday’s game against the Canaries.

Prediction

West Ham United 3-1 Norwich City

West Ham United are clear favourites on paper and are expected to sweep aside the relegation-threatened Canaries. Norwich City are the kind of opposition Moyes should expect his team to win against comfortably, considering they think of themselves as top-four challengers.

Meanwhile, Norwich may have had a morale boost since their win over Charlton in the FA Cup, but they are back to the grind of the Premier League. They might have to wait a while longer to face a team Smith will be confident of beating, which certainly isn’t the Hammers. Expect West Ham to take three points and be prolific at the London Stadium against this struggling team.

Leave A Comment...

*