Ryan Giggs scores a late goal against Norwich City for Manchester United last season
Manchester United travel to Norwich on Saturday evening for the 61st meeting between the two sides. United did the double over Norwich last season, winning 2-0 at Old Trafford and a narrow 2-1 victory at Carrow Road, following a last minute Ryan Giggs goal. The meeting at Carrow road last season was the first in seven years, since United went down 2-0 in April 2005. Here we take a look at the opposition’s view, the potential lineup and of course – a prediction.
We welcome the opinions of both sets of fans in the comments box.
A view from the opposition
We asked Rick over at http://norwichcity.myfootballwriter.com a few questions on Norwich City and Manchester United. Here is what he had to say:
How would you sum up Norwich’s season so far?
I think Chris Hughton had a tricky gig; new manager coming in; second season syndrome. And, initially, it all looked a bit hairy. Kicking off with the big defeat at Fulham on the opening day and the failure to beat either QPR or West Ham at home, questions were being asked. But since the home win over Arsenal and now a Capital One Cup quarter-final run, many a question has now been answered.
Do you expect the club to survive in the Premier League this season?
Yes. I think there are at least four or five clubs worse than Norwich; the current bottom three may yet struggle to ever catch-up with the rest of the pack. There’s a decent spirit and belief to this current set-up; early blips forgotten.
How much of a loss was Paul Lambert and what are your thoughts on Chris Hughton so far?
Lambert was, obviously, a big loss. But there was a degree of inevitability to his exit; much as there was with Mike Walker’s exit to Everton on the back of that famed UEFA Cup run. Hughton has impressed me thus far; the signings of Sebastien Bassong from Spurs and Alexander Tettey from Rennes look to have take on Norwich another level; repeating his transfer feats at Newcastle. But he hasn’t thrown everything out from old – witness pairing Grant Holt with Wes Hoolahan up front. Soild, as opposed to spectacular, Hughton is just the man for where Norwich are right now.
Have you watched United much this season? How do they compare to previous years?
I haven’t watched too much of them; my sense would be that they are younger, more dynamic. A fresher feel to them. And yet still with the same depth of character – as they proved at Villa Park last week.
Who are your favourites for the title?
United. Not sure City will squeeze it again this time round.
Who are your favourites to be relegated?
Reading, QPR, Southampton.
What is the best Norwich/United match that you can remember?
The 2004 victory – and a towering performance by Dean Ashton.
Who is the greatest Norwich City player of all time?
In my 20-year stint as a reporter – first on the Evening News and then running MyFootballWriter/Norwich – on his day Darren Huckerby was electric; a young Chris Sutton was truly formidable; Ian Crook could drop the ball onto a penny from 50-yards. But Grant Holt will push all of them hard in terms of goals, character and leadership.
If you could have one United player out of this current crop, who would it be?
Potential Manchester United lineup
With a Champions League fixture in the week, where United have already qualified, against Galatasaray – Sir Alex Ferguson will no doubt field a strong side against Norwich City. Jonny Evans is a doubt along with Wayne Rooney, which is why Smalling will most probably partner Rio Ferdinand at the back and Javier Hernandez lead the attack, following his superb performance against Aston Villa last weekend, alongside Robin van Persie:
Until last week, Paul Scholes hadn’t started a match since the 4-2 victory over Stoke City at the end of October, which is why the 38 year old could start ahead of Cleverley – he’s been nicely rested. Danny Welbeck played the full ninety minutes on Wednesday in the international friendly against Sweden for England, whereas Young was withdrawn midway through the second half. If there are any changes to the above team, I would suspect these would be the two. Wayne Rooney is doubtful for the match, which could see him confined to the bench – especially with the current form of Hernandez, who is the second top scorer for United, in all competitions.
Norwich City have only won two games so far this season, both coming in the previous four fixtures. A 1-0 victory over Arsenal was the first win of the season followed by a controversial 1-0 win over Stoke City. In the last four games, Norwich have only let in four goals, a stark contrast to the opening game of the season, where they lost 5-0 at Fulham. There was a lot of talk at the start of the season that Grant Holt had come back over weight following his transfer request debacle and subsequent new contract agreement. However, ‘the big man’ is City’s top goalscorer with three goals – including the winner against Arsenal. Norwich’s number 9 has scored more league goals than Wayne Rooney so far.
Although Norwich pulled off an impressive 1-0 win over Arsenal, they conceded nine goals in two games against Liverpool and Chelsea. Liverpool won five goal to two, whilst Chelsea thumped the canneries 4-1 at Stamford Bridge. United have scored 14 goals away from home so far this season and I expect that to increase tomorrow. Other than the 2005 defeat (and of course, the fact that both clubs weren’t in the same division for a number of seasons), the last time United lost to Norwich at Carrow road was in the 1989/90 season. Wayne Rooney, if not deemed fit, will be an obvious loss to United, but Javier Hernandez has been in fine scoring form of late and deserves his place in the sides. Both of Norwich’s wins so far this season have been 1-0, so it is vital for United to score first, otherwise, if it goes the other way, – they could get frustrated. Norwich were extremely unlucky last season not to get something from the game last season, following a superb strike from Grant Holt. This time around though, I think United will be too strong and combined with the fact that Ferguson can rest a number of players midweek.
Prediction: Norwich City 0-3 Manchester United