Manchester City face Norwich at Carrow Road as they look to keep Liverpool at bay in the race for the Premier League title. The blues went twelve points clear with a 2-0 win over Brentford on Wednesday night, but the Mersey Reds cut the gap to nine points with their own 2-0 win over Leicester on Thursday.
Both teams face away matches this weekend, with Liverpool at Burnley while City take an evening trip to East Anglia to face struggling Norwich City. The blues won the match at Etihad Stadium in August by thrashing the newly promoted Canaries 5-0. Since then, Norwich’s hopes of staying in the Premier League have not got any better.
Despite briefly moved out of the relegation zone with a 1-1 draw at home to Crystal Palace, but dropped back in around fifteen minutes later as Newcastle beat Everton 3-1. A huge part of Norwich’s problems is down to the fact they have won just four of their twenty-three league games this season and have lost fourteen, a statistic only Watford can beat with fifteen defeats.
Norwich are also the lowest scoring team with fourteen and have the uncelebrated record of the league’s worst defence. The Canaries have conceded an incredible forty-six goals, an average of two per game, and have only kept four clean sheets. They have failed to score in fifteen matches and went through the whole of December without finding the back of the net.
Their most recent form sees them on a three-match unbeaten run, having claimed successive victories over Everton (2-1) and Watford (3-0), while their match against Palace saw them take seven points from a possible nine.
For a team threatened with an immediate return to the Championship, that is not bad form to take into a match with the blues.
Teemu Pukki is Norwich’s main threat up front. The Finnish striker is not in the form he was two seasons ago but has managed to score six goals this season, all in the Premier League, to lead the way as the Canaries top scorer. Pukki has had twenty-four shots on goal from is twenty-five matches played, and has a shot accuracy of 54% and a goal conversion rate of 25%.
Joshua Sargent is next on the list. He has four goals so far, but just two have come against Premier League opposition. With twelve shots on goal from twenty-one matches, Sargent has a better conversion rate than Pukki (33%), but his shot accuracy drops to 50%.
Assists have fallen to Pukki, who has created eighteen chances, two of which have been converted. Billy Gilmour has attempted the most passes with 832 and has created twenty chances, with two being taken. Milot Rashica has created the most chances with twenty-five, with two again being taken.
What is clear from the stats is that Pukki is key to the Norwich team. Stopping him gives the blues a better chance of taking three points from Carrow Road.
Who’s the Boss?
Since their visit to Manchester, Norwich have dispensed with the services of Daniel Farke, replacing him with former Aston Villa manager Dean Smith, who took charge on 15th November. Strangely enough, Smith’s last match in charge at Villa was a 1-0 defeat at Southampton, while his first match in charge was a 2-1 home win over the same opposition, the first manager to manage two different teams in successive matches against the same team.
Smith has managed fourteen games with Norwich, winning five and losing six, giving him a win percentage of 36%.
Last Time Out
Newly promoted Norwich arrived in Manchester off the back of an opening day home defeat to Liverpool. An own goal by Tim Krul was added to by the knee of Jack Grealish to give City a 2-0 half-time lead. Further goals from Aymeric Laporte, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez gave City a comfortable 5-0 win.