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Premier League

  • February 26, 2012
  • • 13:30
  • • Carrow Road, Norwich, Norfolk
  • Referee: A. Marriner
  • • Attendance: 26811

Norwich City - Manchester United Preview: Visitors have lost just once in 13 games against the Canaries

Paul Lambert's men host the Red Devils in good home form and knowing that a win will take them a point behind Liverpool, while a United legend could make his 900th appearance



Naughton, R. Martin, Ward, Drury
Pilkington, Hoolahan, Fox, Surman
Holt, Morison

De Gea
Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra
Young, Scholes, Carrick, Giggs
Rooney, Welbeck

The home side have a number of injury worries in defence with Kyle Naughton and Zak Whitbread facing late tests, while Daniel Ayala remains sidelined with a hamstring injury. Marc Tierney may be available for selection though.

Therefore manager Paul Lambert is likely to stick with the partnership of Russell Martin and Elliott Ward, which has worked well in recent games. Jed Steer started in goal for the 2-1 FA Cup loss to Leicester but John Ruddy is in line to make a return, as is Grant Holt, who missed the fifth round defeat and the last meeting with United.

Sir Alex Ferguson rested a number of players for the Europa League second leg loss against Ajax, and is due to recall the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Patrice Evra and Jonny Evans and field a strong side in this Premier League clash in order to keep the pressure on United's rivals. Wayne Rooney missed the European clash with illness and a decision will be made late as to whether he is fit enough, with Nani also in with a chance of starting.

Other doubts include Tom Cleverley, who has reportedly suffered a recurrence of his ankle injury, while Antonia Valencia has a hamstring problem and will not recover in time, opening the door for Ryan Giggs to return after sitting on the bench in midweek. Anderson, who scored when the sides last met in the league, could return.

  • In the previous 13 league meetings between the sides, Norwich City have only ever beaten United once.
  • The Canaries' top scorer Grant Holt has committed 60 fouls this season, more than anyone else. He is also the second highest scoring uncapped Englishman in the league, after Swansea's Danny Graham.
  • Lambert's men have scored 20 goals from crosses, more than any other team in the top flight.
  • If the hosts claim victory they will end the weekend just one point behind Liverpool and a possible Europa League spot, with the Reds featuring in the League Cup final against Cardiff.
  •  Norwich have kept clean sheets in each of their last two home games, having previously failed to do so since the start of the season.
  • Manchester United have lost on just one of their last 13 league away days, while their opponents on Sunday have lost just one of their last six at home.
  • Ryan Giggs (pictured right) is already the most capped United player and he will make his 900th appearance on Sunday, if he plays a part in the fixture. Sir Alex Ferguson has labelled his record as 'unbreakable'.
  • The champions have kept the most clean sheets in the league this season with 12, while Norwich are at the other end of the spectrum, having stopped the opposition from scoring just twice; the only side to have achieved fewer are Blackburn, with zero.
  • The last four times Norwich have played United at Carrow Road the score ended 2-0, as did the game at Old Trafford earlier in the season.
  • The referee for the day, Andre Marriner, sent off Red Devils' centre-back Nemanja Vidic in a clash with Liverpool at Anfield three years ago and was criticised by the visiting manager for being swayed by the home crowd. Marriner also took charge of the clash in October when the Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez spat began.

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Players to watch

J. Ruddy

Position: Goalkeeper

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
With England's second choice keeper still not clearly identified, Ruddy was certainly in with a chance of being handed a call-up to Stuart Pearce's England squad for the clash with the Netherlands at Wembley. However, Robert Green of West Ham United and Bursaspor's Scott Carson were picked instead.

The 25-year-old Ruddy was rested for the FA Cup game at Carrow Road but will return to aid his side's push in the league. The Englishman has been in good form recently, keeping two clean sheets in the last two home league games, including a fantastic display against Chelsea.

His manager has not been shy in admitting that he is one of his keeper's biggest fans, and called for then manager Fabio Capello to bring him into the national set-up after the game against Andre Villas-Boas' side.

Ruddy, who has made 86 saves in 24 appearances this season, faces a daunting task on Sunday though, with United will always posing a threat up-front. The Canaries goalkeeper will almost definitely be required to make a number of stops and will have to organise the back-line well to deal with the opposition's flowing moves.

D. Welbeck

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
The spotlight could well be on Welbeck after he was picked for the national squad. The United man joins the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Fraizer Campbell, Darren Bent and team-mate Rooney in a five-man pool of England attackers all named ahead of Livepool's Andy Carroll on Thursday.

The 21-year-old will to be looking to impress ahead of the friendly and the Euro Championships this summer, as well as justifying his place with only four players normally taken in his position.

He managed to score in the 2-0 victory when Norwich traveled to Old Trafford earlier in the season and has been favoured by Sir Alex, but this time around faces competition for a starting place from Javier Hernandez, who netted in both legs against Ajax.

The forward, who had loan spells at Preston and Sunderland, is a big talent and one to watch for the future of both England and United. Sunday's game will be a good test to see how he reacts to pressure, as his club place is always under threat despite winning another England call-up.

Editor's Prediction

Norwich have performed well in their recent league matches, keeping clean sheets against Bolton and Chelsea, but that will be tough to replicate against the champions who have been impressive on the road.

The Canaries were knocked out of the FA Cup by Championship outfit Leicester City in their last game, but Paul Lambert has publicly announced that the main priority is still League survival - and given the weakened side he fielded in the cup-tie it would be unwise to see that defeat as a sign of things to come.

United will also be searching for a rebound victory after losing in the second leg of their Europa League clash with Ajax on Thursday night, although still progressing on aggregate; but retaining their Premier League title will still be Sir Alex's main aim of the season.

The Canaries will pose a difficult test for United and it will be important for the visitors not to underestimate Lambert's men, but with a number of players returning for the Red Devils they should have enough to come out on top and keep the pressure on Manchester City.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Norwich City

Manchester United


Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Norwich City FC NOR
Norwich City FC Norwich City
Manchester United FC MUN
Manchester United FC Manchester United

Top 3 Predictions

Norwich City FC NOR
0 - 2
Manchester United FC MUN
Norwich City FC NOR
0 - 3
Manchester United FC MUN
Norwich City FC NOR
1 - 3
Manchester United FC MUN