Premier League – Swans v Norwich City at 15:00 on Saturday, 5th March 2016
Referee: Craig Pawson
Assistants: M Perry, E Smart
Fourth Official: A Davies
After the midweek heroics at Arsenal, the Swans return to the Liberty Stadium for a real ‘6 pointer’ against relegation rivals Norwich City, in what is arguably their most important Premier League game since promotion to the top flight in 2011.
A win against Norwich will give the Swans a massive boost to their survival chances, whilst piling more pressure on the Canaries, whom along with Sunderland have the worst defensive record in the Premier League.
Many of you will no doubt remember the pitiful Swans peformance and defeat at Carrow Road back in November, a repeat of that horrow show is unlikely and would be totally unaccecptable given the importance of this game.
With upcoming games against Bournemouth and then Aston Villa later in March, three points against Norwich would cap a great start to the month of March and build nicely towards reaching the 40 point mark.
Even Canaries boss Alex Neil reckons that the Swans may be out of sight for his Norwich side if they were to lose at the Liberty stadium this weekend.
Few if any gave the Swans a chance at the Emirates, especially when the side containing six changes was announced, which indicated how much emphasis Francesco Guidolin had placed on the game against the Canaries.
In Guidolin’s absense, Curtis and Dave Adams pulled off a tactical masterstroke at half-time which changed the face of the game against the Gunners and with the Italian still in a London hospital, the duo are once again going to be orhcestrating things from the touchline.
Guidolin has picked the side for the Norwich clash and there is no doubt we can expect changes to the starting line-up to what most fans would call our strongest team.
Although young Scot Stephen Kingsley impressed against Arsenal, he will no doubt make way for Neil Taylor, with Federico Fernandez replacing the impressive Jordi Amat.
It will be interesting to see what central defensive midfield combination is used, after another weak peformance from Ki in midweek.
Expect Alberto Paloschi to return to striking duties instead of Bafetimbi Gomis, despite an improved showing (and service!) for the Frenchman on Wednesday night.
Aside from Ki and Leroy Fer – whom both suffered slight knocks at Arsenal, the Swans have a full strength side to choose from. Norwich however will be without midfielder Alex Tetty and could also be missing Timm Klose and Jonny Howson.
Canaries boss Alex Neil – whom previously played alongside former Swans gaffer Garry Monk – will be pleased that Robbie Brady, Gary O’Neil and Steven Naismith are available as he looks for a repeat of the Canaries victory over the Swans in November.
History favours the Canaries, with them having won twice on their last three visits to the Liberty. In fact, Norwich have lost only once to the Swans in seven Premier League meetings, having drawn two and won four of the other encounters!
Despite the Swans having won only twice at the Liberty in the last 12 Premier League home games, with the mood in the camp no doubt bouyant, you’d fancy the Swans to add to Norwich’s eight-match winless run and take another big step to Premier League safety.
One thing is for certain though – EVERYONE needs to get behind the team today and roar them onto victory…. WE ARE SWANSEA CITY!
Swans 2 Norwich City 0
What the Pundits Think
Mark Lawrenson (BBC) – Swans 2 Norwich City 1
What a great win for Swansea over Arsenal on Wednesday , especially with their manager Francesco Guidolin in hospital with a chest infection. Another Swans win would edge them even closer to safety and I think they will get it against a Norwich team that, along with Sunderland, have got the worst defensive record in the league. The Canaries have conceded 53 goals in 28 games, not far off two a game, which means to win a game, they have to score three.”
Paul Merson (Sky Sports) – Swans 1 Norwich City 1
If you had asked me three days ago, I would have said that this is Swansea’s cup final, but now if they win this game that is it, I think they are safe – all within a matter of a week. No one expected them to beat Arsenal – I don’t think they did either given the team they sent out! But fair play to them. I am going to go for 1-1 here. I think Norwich will have a go and one day they will put away all these chances they create.”
Mark Scott (MOTD Commentator)
Francesco Guidolin had one eye on Norwich’s visit to South Wales when he named a much-changed team in midweek, so to win at Arsenal was all the more of a boost. Guidolin missed the Arsenal game because of illness and it seems unlikely he will be back in the dugout on Saturday. If he is absent again, the side will be in safe hands, with Alan Curtis’ shuffling of formation in midweek coming up trumps. Alex Neil said he felt ‘like a broken record’ after Norwich made it eight without a win, the familiar tune being calls to take their chances and cut out silly mistakes. Given that most of their upcoming games are against teams in and around them, they desperately need that soundtrack to change soon.”
Last meeting at the Liberty Stadium
29 Mar 2014: Swans 3 Norwich City 0
Current League Form (Last 6)
Norwich City: LLDLLL
Predicted Swans Starting XI:
Fabianski, Rangel, Fernandez, Williams (Capt), Taylor, Britton, Cork, Ayew, Sigurdsson, Routledge, Paloschi
At the Bookies
Those of you who fancy a flutter might want to check out the odds being offered on the game at the moment and here are a list of our top picks.
Get odds of 9/2 on Alberto Paloschi to score first.
Get odds of 11/2 on Gylfi Sigurdsson to score first.
Get odds of 17/2 on Alberto Paloschi scoring a brace.
Get odds of 7/2 on the match to end as a 1-1, 2-2 or 3-3 draw.
Get odds of 7/4 on the Swans to win 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1.
Let us know your thoughts – whether on the game or the betting odds(!) using the comment box below 🙂