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Opposition Preview - Norwich City (Away)
Written by ad_wilkin on Thursday, 4th Apr 2024 11:20

Saturday 6th April. The East Anglian Derby part two. Following a 2-2 draw at Portman Road earlier in the season, Town will make the short journey to Carrow Road for another attempt to end their winless run against their arch rivals.

It may not be the last chance they have to achieve that feat this season either with the Canaries currently occupying the last play-off place which, depending on Town's finishing position, could see another play-off semi-final between the two clubs.

It’s a meeting of two form sides. Norwich have six wins in their last nine games while Town have nine in their last ten. Town are fighting for the title, whereas Norwich are chasing after that last spot in the play-offs. This is arguably the biggest East Anglian derby for a long, long time.

Last time out (Ipswich 2- 2 Norwich)

The Town bus was once again greeted by a wall of blue and white as thousands of fans took to the streets to support their team and give them a welcome. After so many years of pain, Town were arguably coming into this one as the top dog, expecting to win rather than hoping for a result.

Things started well for Town with Wes Burns running causing problems down the right. Cameron Burgess headed over from a deep free-kick before Town’s passing created the first clear-cut chance of the game.

Vaclav Hladky, Luke Woolfenden, Harry Clarke, Sam Morsy and Conor Chaplin all involved before Burns was slipped in down the right and hit a shot that beat the keeper but which was cleared away with a sliding block behind him from Shane Duffy.

In that same attack Town managed to keep possession and recycle the ball back to Massimo Luongo. Nathan Broadhead had found some space on the edge of area and managed to turn as he received the ball before a couple of nice feints sat not one but two Norwich City defenders down as they flew in as they attempted to block. Clean through, he looked certain to score but somehow scooped his shot just wide of the post.

Town continued to put the pressure on. A full-blooded Morsy tackle fell the way of Burns, who beat Sam McCallum with ease and whipped a low cross into the box, which once again fell to that man Broadhead. Once again, the Welshman controlled the ball well but was wild and wide with his shot.

Town were in once again when Jonathan Rowe was caught dwelling on the ball high up the pitch by a good Burgess press. The ball fell to Broadhead who instigated the switch from left to right, finding George Hirst, who was able to lay it off to the onrushing Burns. The Wales international took a touch but was rushed into a shot by a Norwich defender diving in and was unable to test Angus Gunn in the Canaries goal with his shot continuing to rise as it blazed over.

It was a set piece that eventually allowed Town to make the breakthrough. Leif Davis’s delivery was headed away but only to the edge of the area where Luongo was waiting to keep it alive. The Australian was first to the ball and looped a header back into the box. Hirst showed incredible strength to get underneath it and then amazing awareness to just flick his header into the path of Broadhead, who smashed a left-footed shot into the back of the net to finally score the goal that he’d been threatening the whole first half.

Norwich struck back with a chance out of nothing just six minutes later. A McCallum whipped cross flew across the box missing everyone. Davis had covered the run of Rowe to prevent him getting his head on that delivery but it meant he was out of position as Jack Stacey chased down the loose ball on the other side.

His cross was again hopeful rather than precise and looped high into the air. Town’s defence had chosen to reshuffle rather than stick with their men and Rowe, who was still on the floor and in an offside position when the cross was delivered, was left unmarked in the box. His first attempt of a spectacular bicycle kick was sliced into the chest of Woolfenden but the ball bounced nicely with the rebound hitting his foot before a well executed inventive jumping scissor keep poked the ball past Hladky and into the back of the net for the equaliser as the clubs went in level at half-time.

It was Norwich who seized the momentum in the second half. A long throw into the box saw Duffy wrestle Hirst out of the way in what was arguably a foul and head onto the Ipswich striker as he dragged him away from the ball. That man Rowe was lurking once again having shaken off the attentions of Broadhead. He swung a right foot at the ball and his shot went through a bunch of bodies, including the offside Ashley Barnes and through the legs of Hladky as once again Norwich produced a goal out of nothing.

Credit to Town, their heads didn’t drop and it wasn’t long before the ball was worked to Chaplin on the edge of the box once again but like Broadhead earlier in the game, the number 10’s finishing was off and he failed to hit the target.

Burgess was then on the end of another deep Morsy free-kick and this header was closer than his first attempt but was still off target.

The equaliser came when once again Norwich were caught dwelling on the ball in their own half. This time Morsy nipped in to pinch the ball off Ashley Barnes and poke to Broadhead. The Welshman quickly switched it to Chaplin, who immediately found Burns in a slightly narrower right-sided position, similar to where he had skied over the bar in the first half. This time however, he made no mistake, firing a crisp shot low through the legs of McCallum, along the ground back across a stranded Gunn.

The final stages of the game were all Town as they pushed for a winner. Chaplin fired a free-kick narrowly wide, sub Omari Hutchinson sent in a dangerous ball that was blocked away and Broadhead was denied from a superb curling effort which was bent around a defender by a great diving save from Gunn as Town had to settle for a point.

Statistically, Town dominated possession, had more shots, a higher xG, more passes, more dribbles, more duel wins and were the team on top for most of the game.

A habit of this Norwich side, however, is making their chances count, even if they’re half-chances. They scored two goals from three shots on target unlike Town who were guilty of being very wasteful with the chance they created and it always felt like the Canaries possessed a threat in the game.

What's Changed?

No manager change this time round with David Wagner holding on to his job thanks to a good run of form which has put Norwich back in play-off contention.

It was also a quiet January window with only one addition. Sydney van Hooijdonk was a late January addition, on loan from Bologna, but he is yet to start a game, averaging 17 minutes across his seven appearances off the bench and only one goal contribution (an assist in the 4-1 win against Cardiff) in that time.

His lack of impact has been lessened by the return of Josh Sargent from injury. The American was out for all of September and October and most of November but since coming back into the side, he can't stop scoring.

Sargent has netted 14 goals in 19 appearances, averaging one every 91 minutes. By way of comparison, Kieffer Moore has a goal every 127 minutes since his arrival on loan.

Sargent's return from injury is very much like a new signing for the Canaries, who chose not to make any additions other than Van Hooijdonk in January, instead opting to stick with what was already in the building.

They did, however, let a few fringe players leave the building with Adam Forshaw joining Plymouth, Przemyslaw Placheta leaving for Swansea and Adam Idah moving north to join Celtic on loan.

Key Players

Borja Sainz

With injuries hitting Norwich’s wide players, Borja Sainz’s upturn in form has come at a good time. He has one goal and one assist in his last four games following a straight red card for violent conduct against Middlesbrough that was the rescinded.

All four of his goals this season have come playing on the left and cutting inside onto his right foot and three of those have been strikes from outside the box.

The Spaniard loves a screamer. Keeping him off that foot and showing him down the line will be crucial. He was completely anonymous against Leicester in Norwich’s last match as he was constantly forced inside into traffic but he’s a player that has various ups and downs and will still need to be watched carefully.

Gabriel Sara

With Rowe's injury, Norwich's midfield metronome has been moved further forward onto the right hand side of midfield where he's impressed even more and upped his already impressive goal contributions.

A near-perfect performance against Rotherham saw him come away with two goals and an assist and he followed that up with another goal in the 3-0 win at Stoke and one more in the last game against Leicester.

The Brazilian is near the top of the pile for goals (11) and assists (11) as well as most passing metrics in the league. If he has one weakness it’s that he gives away a lot of fouls but pushed forward into the advanced positions this flaw is negated.

Sam McCallum

McCallum may be a bit of a leftfield selection but he was the player I was the most impressed with the first time these two sides met.

Since that game he has very much nailed down that left-back position and put in a couple of impressive performances against Stoke and Middlesbrough.

He’s at the top end of the division for interceptions (2.95 per 90), clearances (3.5 per 90) and ariel duels won (3.19 per 90) and will tasked yet again with trying to keep Town’s right-hand side quiet whilst trying to get up and support attacks when needed. He’s another that didn’t have the best of performances against Leicester so will be fired up for this one.

The Teams

Following another amazing night at Portman Road with a 3-2 victory over Southampton there is only one new injury concern going into this one.

Kieffer Moore went off early in that one with a lot of discomfort in his back. If he’s fit again, he starts, if not it’s the perfect opportunity for Ali Al-Hamadi to make his first start and make himself a hero.

As for the rest of the team. Hladky will continue in goal, with Woolfenden, Burgess and Davis also keeping their place. Axel Tuanzebe possesses extra defensive qualities but lacks the same thrust that Clarke brings so I think the local boy will come back in for this one.

In midfield, skipper Morsy will almost certainly start and look to avoid another yellow as he’s now only two away from a ban. Alongside him Jack Taylor was absolutely excellent when he came on against Southampton and I think he has done enough to start against Norwich.

Hutchinson, Chaplin and Broadhead will most likely be the other three starters supporting one of Moore or Al-Hamadi.

For Norwich, Angus Gunn will start in goal behind a likely back four of Stacey, Duffy, Ben Gibson and McCallum. Duffy comes in following an injury to Jacob Sorensen in the Leicester game. The rest of their team has also been very consistent and will likely to continue to be so with Kenny McLean and Marcelino Nunez the midfield two.

Gabriel Sara will continue to play further forward in the right hand attacking role with Sainz on the left and the evergreen Ashley Barnes in behind Sargent.

Action Areas

Norwich had been on a winning streak prior to defeat at Leicester. Against the Foxes they had to soak up a lot of pressure and were eventually undone by two moments of class.

Going forward they didn’t create much with only two shots on target but they worked a really nice corner routine that allowed Sara to poke home at the near post.

At Portman Road last time out they had three shots on target and they scored two of them. Despite not playing fluid attacking football, they are good at taking their chances (they’re currently outperforming their xG by over 16 goals) and really work on their set pieces, so Town will have to be at their best to defend against them and make sure they don’t suffer from any lapses of concentration.

They have scored the fifth most goals in the division with 72, 10 of which have been from outside the box. In Sargent, Barnes and Sara they still have a ton of goalscoring threat and can sniff out chances from nothing, so Town will need to be on the ball, make sure emotions don’t creep in too much and try to avoid too many individual errors.

With McLean playing the midfield role when Norwich have the ball, they tended to drop into a back three in the Leicester game and push both full-backs on a bit like Southampton, so watching the transition from either right to left or left to right in behind Davis will be crucial to keeping a clean sheet.

With Sara playing on the right of an attacking three, they’ll likely focus their attacking threat that way. By contrast to that, it does mean that Davis could have more freedom and hopefully Broadhead and Chaplin can find the spaces in the pockets.

This was the case in the last game between the sides with all of Town’s front three having good chances but they were wasteful in that one. Hopefully, they’ll have their shooting boots on this time round.

Pre-Monday’s fixtures I was worried about this one and was honestly feeling it had a defeat written all over it. A lot of that was definitely heart over head. Recent history has taught us that good things don’t happen at Carrow Road.

However, having watched the Canaries at Leicester and then the enthralling 3-2 win against Southampton at Portman Road, my head says that as a team Ipswich are stronger than Norwich.

Norwich are still stacked with talent but don’t have the same ingrained patterns of play. In a derby though, individual talent can get you points, much like it did the first time round for them. I’m going to predict a 1-1 draw.

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mathiemagic added 12:42 - Apr 4
I think we will finally break our hoodoo and get a 1-3 win after going behind.

Europablue added 14:17 - Apr 4
It could go either way, or neither, but we are more likely to win.

Bramidan added 14:49 - Apr 4
There is a reason we are 24 points ahead of them.
However it is a derby, I’m still taking the town by 2

IanLowe added 15:50 - Apr 4
Thank you very much for these articles . I find them informative and interesting, I look forward to read them before every match. Much appreciated..

FreddySteady added 08:41 - Apr 5
Can’t call this at all! 5-0?, 0-5?, 4-4?

Feel sick already.
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