A red-hot André Ayew and a resurgent Championship heavyweight descending on Carrow Road would normally fill me with dread.
Swansea City, in many respects a sleeping second-tier giant, coming to town is enough to spark fears of an away day pillage in Nelson’s County.
But this is a Norwich City side motoring – and a team who continue to prove their doubters wrong.
Six games unbeaten and all signs heading in the right direction. The foundations of defensive solidity – and how long we’ve yearned for that – firmly in place. Last weekend’s win at Ashton Gate showcasing glimpses of Farkeball at its fluent finest.
This is a City side who have arrested their slow start to the season and showed all who questioned their second-tier steel exactly what they’re made of.
Grant Hanley has firmly re-emerged as a Championship force, wholly deserving of his recent call-up to Steve Clarke’s high-flying Scotland squad.
Ben Gibson, after a two-year exile from the first-team fold, has taken to life at the heart of defence like a duck to water.
Max Aarons has shown remarkable maturity beyond his years to put that European interest behind him and while Jacob Sorensen may be the most one-footed left-back I’ve ever seen, he continues to provide stability at the most injury-ridden of City positions.
It is those four players – and the crocked Xavi Quintilla, up until our warm-up at the spaceship-resembling Brentford Community Stadium – who have provided the basis for our ascent up the table.
And that’s not to even mention Mario Vrancic, Marco Stiepermann, Emi Buendia and Teemu Pukki – the class of 2018-19 who continue to roll back the years with those late winners – languid final-third marauding, idiosyncratic brilliance and clinical finishing respectively.
Add a dollop of Tim Krul’s talismanic presence between the sticks, and the satisfying rise of Lukas Rupp – it’s so great to see him proving his irrational and premature doubters wrong – into the mix and you have a serious Championship outfit.
Steve Cooper’s Swans are no slouches either, however. And tomorrow’s behind-closed-doors contest will make for some fascinating viewing in NR1.
As expected, Ayew has been superb for the Welsh side and, even a month before his 31st birthday, continues to strike fear into second-tier defences.
Jamal Lowe isn’t a bad strike partner either and with Connor Roberts and Yan Dhanda behind them, Swansea’s attacking potency is not to be questioned.
The long-term absence of Wolves loanee Morgan Gibbs-White has inhibited their promotion chances but with the precocious Ben Cabango and former City stars Kyle Naughton and Ryan Bennett in defence, Cooper’s team look a solid bet to be duking it out at the business end of the season come May.
All of which makes this one of the most hotly-anticipated games of the Championship season so far. The opportunity to go into the international break boasting an automatic promotion spot looms for both, and if Norwich are the side to seize it, it will cap a stunning turn of fortunes since the beginning of October.
That Derby Saturday lunchtime smash and grab seems a long time ago. The pretty passing, lack of penetration and back-four fragility of September has been replaced by a long-overdue cutting edge – the game at Bristol City was thrilling – and defensive dependability.
And, as proven by those string of late, late winners, this team – as they did two seasons ago – has the resolve to bolster their footballing aesthetics and churn out big results.
Tomorrow represents our toughest test yet. Spearheaded by Ayew, Cooper has successfully built on the foundations laid by Graham Potter to catapult Swansea into viable promotion contenders.
But City have a strong record against the Welsh team and all the credentials to inflict a hammer-blow on their early-season hopes. Memories of John Ruddy’s penalty-saving heroics, a 4-3 Premier League victory and 2018’s brilliant Liberty Stadium shellacking immediately spring to mind.
And if City can channel those memories, build on their recent form and hit their straps as they did in such scintillating fashion in Bristol, they can send Cooper, and Ayew, back across the border having inflicted a major statement of promotion intent.