If bookmakers’ predictions for this season are correct, then this fixture will be played out in the Championship next season. Nevertheless, both teams are making good efforts towards ensuring they have to pay out heftily come the end of the season as both promoted sides find themselves in 9th and 10th places respectively. Both teams will be looking to build upon their positive start to the season in this relegation 6 pointer at Carrow Road this Saturday.
Leon Britton is set to return from injury and will be fighting it out amongst Joe Allen, Mark Gower and Wayne Routledge for a place in the starting line-up. In defence, there is no let up on the defensive crisis therefore Garry Monk will continue to partner Ashley Williams in defence. Danny Graham will be hoping to build upon his first goal in Swansea colours by keeping his place in the starting XI.
Norwich are also new to the division this season as they celebrated their second successive promotion by securing 2nd position in the Championship last season. A remarkable achievement considering they lost 7-1 to Colchester in their first game in League one 3 seasons ago. The man who masterminded Norwich’s downfall that day was Paul Lambert. In the weeks that followed, Lambert swapped the dugout in Essex for the one in East Anglia and the Canaries haven’t looked back since. They secured the League One title at a canter, and then shocked everyone in the Championship last season by securing the second automatic spot ahead of much fancied teams.
Under Lambert, like Swansea, Norwich have built up a reputation of playing good football. They are traditionally very strong at home. In their last time out, despite falling on the receiving end of a 2-0 score line, they played very well and were unlucky not to get a point out of their visit to the Champions. They lined up there in a 4-5-1 formation with Welsh international striker Steve Morison leading the line. Lambert is likely to opt for the same formation for Saturday’s game.
Last Time Out:
(vs. Manchester United L 2-0)
John Ruddy; Ryan Martin, Leon Barnett, Marc Tierney, Kyle Naughton; Bradley Johnson, Anthony Pilkington, Wes Hoolahan, David Fox, Elliot Bennet; Steve Morison.
Across the Back
Ex-Everton Goalkeeper John Ruddy has been a regular in the Norwich side during their promotion campaign of last season and has retained his position as number one keeper at the club over the summer. Norwich have strengthened their ranks in defence with the loan signings of Ritchie De Laet (Manchester United) and Kyle Naughton (Tottenham). They also have ex-Liverpool academy products Daniel Ayala and Zak Whitbread in their ranks. Marc Tierney, Adam Drury, Elliot Ward, Russell Martin and Leon Barnett have the potential to fill their back line.
In the Middle
Like Swansea, Norwich like to pack their midfield and the battle between the two sides in the middle of the park on Saturday will be enthralling. Wes Hoolahan forms a link between the strikers and the midfielders and is capable of scoring a goal or two. Norwich can also boast of a Welsh international midfielder in the form of Andrew Crofts. Bradley Johnson, Anthony Pilkington and Chris Martin (not of Coldplay fame) are capable of playing in the central midfield. Lambert looks to David Fox, Andrew Surman and Elliot Bennett to supply the width and speed to the Norwich attack.
League journey man Grant Holt is the current club captain and is hoping to build upon his 21 league goals for the Canaries this season. Welsh international Steve Morison is a summer acquisition from Millwall as they look to add more physicality to the attack. Simeon Jackson is an option that Lambert can call upon and his pace adds a different dimension to the Norwich play. A knee injury has ruled out another summer signing James Vaughan out of Saturday’s game.
Danny Graham vs. Zak Whitbread
The Swans hit man managed to find the net three times against Norwich for his old club Norwich last season for Watford. After scoring his first goal for Swansea, he’ll be confident of increasing his tally in this fixture. Whitbread will be the Norwich man responsible for ensuring he does not.
Nathan Dyer vs. Kyle Naughton
The loan signing from Tottenham is highly rated by his parent club, but is bound to be tested on Saturday afternoon against Nathan Dyer. It’ll be a test of his Premiership and potential future international credentials as he comes up against a merchant of raw pace in Dyer.
Leon Britton vs. Wes Hoolahan
Hoolahan has the ability to grab goals from midfield. He is also the link man between the midfield and attack. In order to cut off the supply and the midfield goal scoring threat, Leon will have to be at his combative best off the back of 3 weeks without playing any football.
Ashley Williams vs. Steve Morison
International team mates during the week, both will be doing their utmost to gain the upper hand on one another come the weekend. Morison has risen from non-league to Premiership via Stevenage and Millwall in 3 years. He is capable of posing a dangerous ariel threat. Williams will have to be ready to combat this threat in order to keep clean sheet number 5 of the season.
Head to Head
Last season saw two excellent encounters between the two sides. Who can forget Fabio Borini’s majestic free kick at the Liberty to send us on our way to a 3-0 victory? In the reverse tie in August, Swansea missed a penalty in the 86th minute before cruelly conceding two late goals as Norwich won the game 2-0.
9/4/11 – Swansea 3-0 Norwich (Borini, Gower, Priskin)
21/8/10 Norwich 2-0 Swansea
9/4/09 Swansea 2-1 Norwich (Scotland 2)
15/11/08 Norwich 2-3 Swansea (Scotland, Pratley, Bodde)
Conclusions and Predictions
This will be the first away game the Swans will go into where our fans will be expecting to win after visits to Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea. Both sides will have targeted this game as one they would like to win in order to fulfil their ambitions of staying in the League come May 2012. The Swans will be looking to take the results achieved at the Liberty and hopefully start picking points up on the road. This game may not get the glamour or the press coverage that Liverpool vs Manchester United will get, but I for one think it’s got the makings of a classic. With so much at stake, I believe it will be a tight affair that will be settled by one goal one way or another.
I am ever the optimist and my prediction is:
Norwich 1-2 Swansea City
This article was written by Matt Wallace