It's a must win for Norwich and Manchester United - but for very different reasons
Norwich v Manchester United, Saturday 12.45pm, BT Sport 1
Throughout the Premier League season there are games that are deemed ‘massively important clashes’ by the Sky Sports hype machine in an attempt to get people excited about West Brom’s clash with Swansea on a wet Monday in November. However, Saturday’s match between Norwich and Manchester United is genuinely important for both sides – albeit for entirely different reasons.
Louis van Gaal’s men still have an outside chance of sneaking a Champions League spot, while the Canaries need a win to lift them out of the relegation zone. The difference in pennies between European football and spending your Saturday’s in England’s second tier arguably make this clash one of the most valuable of the year.
A win for the Red Devils brings them to within a point of Manchester City in fourth, while defeat would give City the chance to spread the gap to seven points on Sunday at home to Arsenal. A win for Norwich would lift them out of the relegation zone and a point ahead of Newcastle, defeat would put massive pressure on their midweek tie against Watford.
Squeaky bum time? Most certainly.
Norwich’s record against the top 10 this season is as bleak as you’d probably expect. Two wins (albeit one of the against Manchester United), six draws and 11 defeats make for painful reading for the Canaries, while they have won just one game at home from nine games against top 10 sides – that was a 1-0 win against Southampton.
The Red Devils’ form is hardly impressive either. In fact their form away to the bottom eight makes Adam Sandler’s recent movie career look impressive. They’ve managed to win just one, draw two and lose four on the road against the bottom eight – suffering defeats at the hands of Sunderland, Bournemouth, West Brom and Swansea.
It’s the kind of statistic that would make Sir Alex Ferguson choke on his supper.
However, given the current league form Manchester United go into the tie as favourites, with the home side to pick up a vital three points. One of the brightest sparks in a miserable season for the Stretford Enders has been Anthony Martial, and he can provide another season highlight by potentially bagging us a 25/1 winner.
The French striker has gone through some delightful scoring patches this season, and it could be exactly the right time to take advantage of another. In September he scored four goals in four games for United, and then scored three goals in four games towards the end of March. He’s coming off the back of scoring a last minute winner against Everton to send United to the FA Cup Final, and then opening the scoring after eight minutes at home to Leicester. At he could be a fantastic price to open the scoring at Carrow Road.
- Throw into the mix that Norwich have failed to score eight times in the last 12 league games, and a United win to nil at looks appealing
- For a little extra spice, consider that 50 per cent of Norwich’s 10 defeats this year have been by a single goal, and 65 per cent of Man United’s 17 wins have been by the slimmest of margins, and 1-0 might catch your eye at
- Combining the two, and a 1-0 win for the away team with Anthony Martial grabbing the only goal is a 25/1 scorecast that could get our Saturday afternoon off to a flyer
Unfortunately for Delia Smith and co. it could also be the result that sends Norwich one step closer to the Championship. Let’s be having you!