Manchester United vs. Norwich City: Match Preview


By Mark Young

Introduction

Manchester United welcome back Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez for this weekend’s game against newly promoted Norwich City.

The striking options have not really been a problem for United this season but question marks remain over the defence. United conceded three times on Tuesday evening at home to FC Basel as United needed a last minute Ashley Young equaliser to save further humiliation. Phil Jones and Rio Ferdinand both looked shaky and the only main stays in the United back four this season have been Patrice Evra at left back along with Jones. Both should play on Saturday and United welcome back Jonny Evans. With Evans returning and Smalling still out injured Jones should move to right back with Ferdinand keeping his place alongside Evans.

Sir Alex Ferguson has said that his side were ‘too cavalier’ on Tuesday and that is the reason why they conceded like they did. It was the first game since drawing 2-2 with West Brom last year that United have not won a game at home. Ferguson will be demanding that his side come out all guns blazing against the Canaries on Saturday. Ashley Young should keep his place on the wing as should Nani on the opposite flank. Rooney and Hernandez could start up front but Danny Welbeck got a European brace on Tuesday and will be pushing for a start. Anderson would probably keep his place in central midfield but maybe with Michael Carrick as his performance would deserve a starting place. Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher are the other options for Ferguson.

Paul Lambert’s Norwich team have had a steady start to their return to the big league helped by beating Sunderland 2-1 on Monday night. Norwich sit in ninth position after back to back wins. United are strong favourites for the game but Norwich will go into it on a high after positive results. Ex Everton striker James Vaughan has been ruled out for several months with a knee injury. Steve Morison is likely to keep his place up front leaving Grant Holt sitting on the bench. Zak Whitbread, Elliot Ward and Daniel Ayala are all sidelined so the back four should stay the same from Monday night along with the midfield. Wes Hoolahan is in the middle of everything good that happens in the Canaries’ build up play. Everything will go through him and it is up to the diminutive play maker to pull the strings.

Opposition View

Here, at Stretford End Arising we spoke to Vital Norwich and asked their thoughts on the upcoming game, Ritchie De Laet and more:

Saturday’s Game

I would be inclined to stick with the team that has brought us back to back victories but Lambert is very canny and I wouldn’t like to second guess him. Hopefully the manager will opt for 4-4-1-1 formation again but maybe against United he will go with 4-4-2, which worked against Chelsea until John Ruddy received his marking orders. It is a difficult one as giving United to much space is a death wish but if we do what Basel did and close and hassle we could get something from the game.

2011-12 season

We are faring better than expected for this stage of the season. The new signings have gelled well and the teamwork that has fared Norwich so well in the lower divisions is intact. Lack of Premier League experience has only been an issue in one area; the naivety when up against highly trained simulators to bring about penalties. However, they are learning. We’ve not been outclassed. In fact the best performance I have seen live so far was at Chelsea.

Summer Signings

Bennett & Johnson have look top class. Bennett does what I love and that is run at players and chase things down. Johnson is a big lad and isn’t afraid to have a shot (I could see a goal from him tomorrow). De Laet has disappointed.

We’re gutted that James Vaughan will now be out until New Year. Signing him may have been a bit of a gamble due to his previous injury record, though he hasn’t had much luck since signing for The Canaries. Being elbowed in the face by West Brom’s Gabriel Tamaș a few weeks back and having to see a plastic surgeon to repair his lip, just about sums it up!

Ritchie De Laet

De Laet has potential, but he has started with mistakes so now needs to earn his place back in the team. Martin, who has stepped into the role has impressed, so the United man may have a challenge on his hands.

His attitude towards our young goalkeeper Rudd (making his full Premier League debut due to Ruddy suspension), when he publicly had a go at him due to a mix up in first 3 minutes resulting in a goal to West Bromwich Albion, did not win him many supporters. Not the sort of thing we are used to – players having a go at others when mistakes made. Looked like it was his fault anyway and it could’ve really affected a young player who was already probably nervous.

De Laet has pace but seems to have a mistake waiting for him in every game. His future may lie at left back rather than at the heart of a defence. I’d rate him 2/5 so far.

Enjoying Premier League Life?

Mostly yes, but there have been times when I hated it. Conceding 5 consecutive penalties was hard to stomach and having to put up with some biased refereeing made it hard to enjoy at first. As a note Saturday’s fixture will be a tough game for us and a point would delight me at Old Trafford, anything less and I still will be happy as long as we do ourselves proud and play as good as we can.

We look forward to seeing some great players at Carrow road.

Three Key Battles

Ashley Young Vs. Kyle Naughton

The England winger has been on fire since his move from Aston Villa in the summer. Naughton who is on loan from Tottenham is very good going forward and he will be tested to the limits up against Young. He will have to stand up to Young and make sure he does not have an impact on the game as happened at Stoke City last weekend. Young will be vital on the break and in taking set pieces and Naughton will have to get his defensive game spot on.

Javier Hernandez Vs. Leon Barnett

Chicharito will be returning from injury on Saturday after missing the mid week draw against Basel. Barnett had a solid game against Sunderland on Monday and he will be up against it on Saturday. Hernandez’s movement is superb and if Barnett gives him an inch the little Mexican will take a mile.

Rio Ferdinand Vs. Steve Morison

Ferdinand looked shaky against Basel and Morison will know that. The ex Millwall man will work tirelessly up front on his own and will give Ferdinand a thing or two to think of. Norwich will get chances and it is up to Morison to put them away. He scored on Monday and will want to add to that.

Summary

On paper, Norwich should be cannon fodder for goal crazy Man United but with some underlying problems in defence Ferguson’s team will be trying to come out and prove a point. A solid victory with three or four goals could be on the cards.

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