Manchester United Vs Norwich City
Mar 2, 2013 at 3pm (UK)
In what could be the beginning of a defining week in more than one competition, Manchester United will play host to Norwich City as the Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester warms itself up to the much anticipated beginning of spring. Manchester United and Norwich City are two confident teams going into the match, where neither of the teams has tasted defeat in premier league for more than over a month. The last time these two teams met in the first half of the season, it was Norwich City who spoiled Sir Alex’s 27th year Anniversary at the club, getting better of their opponents by winning it 1-0 at Carrow road.
While tomorrow would be the 800th time Manchester United would be stepping on to compete in Premier League era since its inception, which is shared by only 7 teams including Manchester united, Norwich City again have the chance to gatecrash a defining moment in the Red Devils list of accolades, thereby denting their confidence ahead of the most awaiting tie with Real Madrid.
Building a 12 point lead at the top hasn’t been easy as Manchester United as a team have evolved from having defensive problems at every drop of the ball towards building a much solid defense at the back. Call it luck (or) the return of their key talismanic players from injury like their captain Vidic (or) the opposition failing to capitalize the best use of chances, all these together have led to the growth in confidence at the back, in addition to David De Gea enjoying his best few months as a United Goal Keeper.
For a stats tidbit, Manchester United have never lost at Old Trafford for the last 30-odd games where their captain from Serbia has started. Although their midfield engine is a work in progress in evolving from being better to best, their forward has been an attack consistent enough to create opportunities that has put most opposition in trouble including Real Madrid.
Patience has been the key for Manchester United in any match and they have complemented this noun very well by scoring goals past their opponents at their will and at times putting some stellar defending at the back to make it a combined supreme team effort, which currently has won them clean sheets more often than the first half of the season. It will be no different come forth tomorrow, that this Manchester United team will build and attack patiently against Norwich who are much vulnerable away from home having lost 5-0 in their last away match.
Welbeck, David De Gea, Rooney, Carrick and Rafael to mention a few, have been the one’s excelling all over the pitch week-in week-out, thereby sending out a warning to the relatively confident looking Norwich city side.
Awaiting a mouthwatering fixture against the Spanish Giants, Real Madrid in three days’ time, neither much importance nor credit is weighed upon this fixture. But Sir Alex has always surprised the best football experts with his team selection which would require not much of a memory refreshing as he put out his best team against Everton at Old Trafford sensing an opportunity to go 12 points ahead just three days ahead of their first leg tie with Real Madrid, thereby having a clear daylight in the race to the Premier League title.
Although many expect Manchester united to cruise past this Norwich City side, it should not be forgotten that incidentally (or) co-incidentally the Red Devils last lost a game in premier league against the same Norwich city side by a mere one goal at Carrow Road.
If Manchester united do cruise past tomorrow (which I believe they will), it would certainly increase the pressure on the defending champions City to win against the struggling Aston Villa late on Sunday night.
On the other hand, tasting a victory after a dozen number of matches at the last gasp of whistle against an Everton side that has quality oozing all over would hint us how confident Norwich City would be going in to face the current league leaders at their own backyard. Adding to this fact, Norwich city can be even more motivated to go right out for a victory, as they were the ones who last defeated this Manchester united side on a marquee day. It has been more or less a difficult season under their new manager Chris Houghton, who has had to uphold the values that Norwich City had achieved last season under their former manager Paul Lambert.
But if there is one thing that the club owners have ever learnt from premier league history, it is to give the new manager time to succeed and put plough their seeds, which naturally would take time in gaining fruits of success. Giving time to succeed has been a key reason why Norwich City have been a team constantly on the up, having last lost a match a month ago in premier league, thereby finding themselves in a highly 12th place which is an inch away from breaking into the top ten.
Although they have taken minimum points on 11 different occasions and maximum points seven times, they have been struggling to score in their attacks. Their over reliance on their captain Grant Holt and Robert Snodgrass have cost them dear as Holt is going through a lean patch in front of the goal considering his quality. They have just scored thrice in their last 6 matches highlighting enough about their concerns going forward in attack. Much could be attributed to the fact that they are trying to play a style of football in securing and putting a much stronger defense and taking the attack forwards in counter, which at certain times have worked for them but with lesser rewards and tomorrow would be no different against a team where its Right Back can score some stunning volleys from far out, it would once again be a back to the walls defending and trying to counter Manchester United into a mistake.
Robert Snodgrass, Anthony Pilkington and Wesley Hoolahan have been their consistent performers over the majority of the games, which would once again call them all to put a stellar performance if they attempt in gatecrashing another marquee day for the current league leaders.
Manchester United almost have a full strength squad with Scholes (knee) and Jones (ankle) being the two fatalities who will be missing from the match, although Sir Alex has stated that Jones has started his running. Van Persie who was taken off against QPR after suspecting a hip injury, is back in the match squad. While Ryan Giggs has just signed a one year contract extension today, is all set to make his 1000th appearance spanning over 23yrs for the Red Devils.
Man United (from): De Gea, Lindegaard, Amos, Rafael, Smalling, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Buttner, Nani, Valencia, Carrick, Cleverley, Giggs, Anderson, Young, Kagawa, Welbeck, Rooney, Hernandez, Van Persie.
Norwich city will be missing their midfielder Alex Tettey and winger Andrew Surman to a Knee injury, while their much dependable English Goal Keeper John Ruddy is recovering back from his thigh injury. Tthe on-loan striker from Sporting Kansas City, Kei Kamara has predicted a Manchester united upset looks set start for the Canaries after coming off the bench to score against Everton.
Everton (from): Bunn, Turner, Garrido, Martin, Bassong, Snodgrass, Johnson, Hoolahan, Pilkington, Howson, Becchio, Kamara, Holt, Camp, Bennett, Fox, Whittaker, E Bennett.
Even though Norwich City are a much confident away side here, they need to start scoring if they want to get any closer towards doing the much impossible upset over a supreme Manchester United side, although Manchester United know well that none of their opponents especially the Canaries can be taken for granted on a week that could see them set the tone for the rest of the season.
Manchester United 3 – 0 Norwich City.