Rock-bottom Norwich City’s battle to stay in the Premier League continues on Saturday afternoon when they host an in-form Newcastle United at Carrow Road.

Norwich City are firmly rooted at the foot of the Premier League table, a position Newcastle held when these sides met in the reverse fixture at the end of November. That game ended with both sides sharing the spoils after Ciaran Clark picked up an early red card.

However, the Magpies have widened the gap between the two teams in the months since, and they enter the game having reached the 40-point mark. They made it three Premier League victories on the trot on Wednesday, defeating Crystal Palace 1-0 at home, with Miguel Almiron netting the game’s only goal in the 32nd minute.

This impressive run also included wins over Wolves and Leicester. They are now in 11th position in the table, 12 points clear of the relegation zone, ensuring that they will be a Premier League club next season unless something unexpected occurs in the coming weeks.

At this point, the Magpies will be looking up the table rather than down, since they are only one point adrift of ninth-placed Leicester. So a top-half finish is absolutely possible, which would be an extraordinary achievement for Eddie Howe and co. given their relegation concerns earlier this season.

Norwich, meanwhile, delivered a strong showing at Old Trafford last Saturday, and their performance warranted a positive outcome. But Cristiano Ronaldo’s spectacular hat-trick meant Manchester United picked up a 3-2 victory against the Canaries.

Norwich City are not yet down and out but will very certainly need to win all of their remaining games to stand any chance of escaping the dreaded relegation zone at this stage of the season, as they are currently eight points behind 17th-placed Everton, who have a game in hand.

Team News & Tactics

Norwich City

Norwich will be without the services of Adam Idah (knee), Joshua Sargent, Andrew Omobamidele (back) and Ozan Kabak (hamstring) due to injuries. Brandon Williams is back available after being ruled ineligible against Manchester United last weekend.

Both Billy Gilmour and Przemyslaw Placheta came off the bench against Manchester United and are pushing for starts. But it is likely that manager Dean Smith will stick with the same XI from the clash at Old Trafford.

Smith has utilised various different formations across his spell and could set up Norwich in a familiar 4-2-3-1 formation that has brought decent performances of late. In goal, there is no looking past Tim Krul. The former Newcastle United keeper will be protected by the central defensive pairing of Ben Gibson and skipper Grant Hanley.

Max Aarons might have to contend with a spot on the bench once again, with Sam Byram likely to stay at right-back, whereas Greek defender Dimitris Giannoulis will slot in as the other full-back.

Kenny McLean and Mathias Normann will have to keep things tight in the middle of the park and restrict Newcastle’s creative general Jonjo Shelvey from dictating play. Kieran Dowell and Milot Rashica, the two wide attackers, will need to be on guard and track back frequently to help their full-backs. But they will also be critical in chance-creation and stretching Newcastle’s backline.

Pierre Lees-Melou will play in an attacking midfield position, although he will often drop deep to provide the necessary defensive support to McLean and Normann. Finally, Teemu Pukki will lead the Norwich attack against Newcastle United. The Finnish striker has reached double digits in the Premier League yet again and will need to be clinical up top if the Canaries are to get anything from this game.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Krul; Byram, Hanley, Gibson, Giannoulis; McLean, Normann; Dowell, Lees-Melou, Rashica; Pukki

homecrowd-formation-AEtTiPqfBJZfx5IQ8OoW

Newcastle United

Newcastle United boss Eddie Howe does not have any fresh injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s trip to Carrow Road. Therefore, Callum Wilson, Isaac Hayden, Jamal Lewis, and Kieran Trippier remain the four first-team players on the treatment table for Newcastle United, while Ryan Fraser is facing a struggle to be fit before the close of the season.

Howe would ideally like to field the same XI that defeated Crystal Palace 1-0 in the midweek. But considering the quick turnaround between games, he may rotate his side to avoid needless injuries and keep the camp’s morale up. Martin Dubravka is a certain starter in between the sticks for the visitors after preserving a clean sheet against Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

Dan Burn will continue to partner Fabian Schar at the heart of Newcastle’s defence, with Matt Targett another player who picks himself at left-back. Meanwhile, Emil Krafth has joined a long list of players to have vastly improved under the intense training methods applied by Howe and could start at right-back.

There could be a reshuffle in midfield, with Joe Willock and Sean Longstaff almost certain to benefit from the rotation to get vital minutes under their belts. Newcastle’s stand-in skipper, Jonjo Shelvey, will continue to operate in his creative lynchpin role.

In attack, speedster Jacob Murphy could return to the starting XI to provide some much-needed fresh legs on the right flank, with wing-king Allan Saint-Maximin possibly dropping out to avoid playing two games in a row in quick succession.

Miguel Almiron will look to build on his wonder goal against Palace last time out, which snapped his 37-game scoring drought, while target-man Chris Wood is also expected to retain his position.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Dubravka; Krafth, Schar, Burn, Targett; Willock, Shelvey, Longstaff; J Murphy, Wood, Almiron

homecrowd-formation-js7zmUPzDEwnK70m9YiP

Key Stats

  • Norwich are undefeated in their last seven home matches against Newcastle in all competitions (W4 D3), winning 3-1 with Teemu Pukki bagging a hat-trick last time out at Carrow Road.
  • Norwich City have failed to win nine of their last ten Premier League matches.
  • Newcastle have won their last three top-flight matches, winning all with a one-goal margin.
  • Norwich boast the worst attacking record in the division, having netted only 22 times all season.
  • Dean Smith’s side also boast the worst-home record in the division, having collected a mere 12 points at Carrow Road this season.

Player to Watch

Miguel Almiron

Embed from Getty Images

The conventional view holds that Almiron, who was used little by Eddie Howe until fixture congestion and injuries forced him to rotate his preferred front men, will not be a part of Newcastle’s setup next season and is likely to be sold this summer. But the Paraguayan’s recent performances in the Magpies’ sensational home run have sent a timely reminder of what he can add to the team.

One prevalent criticism is that Almiron has always shown a lack of end product in the final third. But his defensive work rate, tireless pressing and commitment to the cause have never been in question.

However, this is his first run of games for Howe’s resurrected Magpies, who play an attractive front-footed brand of football. They now also have the ideal creator in Bruno Guimaraes for a player like Almiron, who thrives on making runs in behind. And, he will be aiming to continue making a positive impression.

Prediction

Norwich City 0-2 Newcastle United

Norwich will be lucky to earn a point out of this game, as Newcastle United are on the rise. Both teams have been on contrasting runs of form recently, which should come to the fore during Saturday’s encounter.

Newcastle have been a tough nut to crack in recent months and are also on a great run. Add to it, Norwich have scored just 12 league goals in front of their fans all season long. The Hard Tackle predict Newcastle to come away with a comfortable win.

Leave A Comment...

*