The one good thing about Manchester United’s European adThe one good thing about Manchester United’s European adventures presently being on Thursday nights is that it means league games on Sundays instead of Saturdays, and when the archrivals and chief title rivals are playing the day before, that means you know what you have to do well ahead of time.
With City defeating Blackburn at home yesterday, United head into this afternoon’s visit to Norwich City needing three points to keep the deficit at the top at two points heading into next Sunday’s crucial clash at Tottenham. But to get those three points, we’ll have to see a much better performance than the one we saw on Thursday in the 2-1 fall-from-ahead and hairier-than-it-should-have-been home defeat to Ajax. Given this season’s overall success away from home to this point, there’s reason for optimism, even after what was an extremely forgettable performance in what should have been a stroll.
In the first matchup this season between the two sides, Norwich were every bit as good as United, if not better, for more than an hour but missed multiple opportunities to take a lead at Old Trafford. In the end, those missed opportunities cost them, as Anderson broke the deadlock in the 68th minute and Danny Welbeck applied the finishing blow three minutes from time to give United a 2-0 win.
United’s last trip to Carrow Road wasn’t a successful one, as Norwich notched a 2-0 win in April 2005. However, prior to that defeat, United had been victorious in their last five away league matches against Norwich, and in those five wins, United outscored the Canaries 13-2.
1. Norwich are currently the best of the promoted sides, flying high in eighth position in the Premier League table with 35 points from 25 matches.
The Canaries have nine wins, eight draws, and eight defeats overall thus far, and they have a mark of five wins, four draws, and three defeats at Carrow Road. Two of their home defeats are to Arsenal and Spurs, while they notched a goalless draw against Chelsea last month. There aren’t any marquee home wins on their ledger, but they’ve won most of the home games that they were supposed to win.
2. Norwich have found the back of the net regularly this season, so a tight defensive performance is a must. They’ve scored 37 goals overall this season, which is seventh in the league. 19 of those goals have been scored at home, and they’ve scored multiple goals a dozen times this season, though I suppose it’s worth noting that they haven’t scored multiple goals in any of their matches against the top seven.
3. That scoring has been necessary, however, as the Canaries have been a little porous at the back. They’re 15th in the league with 41 goals allowed, with only bottom dwellers Blackburn, Bolton, QPR, Wigan, and Wolves allowing more.
That being said, they’ve been decent defensively at home, allowing 15 goals in 12 matches, which is the same total that United have surrendered at home. They come into today’s game with clean sheets in their last two home matches, which were their first two clean sheets at home this season.
4. Norwich have received production from many sources this season, so United have multiple danger men to keep both eyes on. Grant Holt leads the way with nine league goals and 11 in all competitions, with Steve Morison on eight league goals and nine in all competitions, and Anthony Pilkington on seven league goals. Pilkington was one of Norwich’s top performers in the match at Old Trafford, and he missed one of the most golden opportunities that he’ll ever receive, shooting wide with the goal, Anders Lindegaard, and all of the United faithful at Old Trafford and around the world at his mercy. Given that he has scored in his last two league matches, it’d be wise to not let him have such clear chances today, right?
Just win, baby. Just win.
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