After falling to defeat in the Welsh capital last week, City host Wigan on Saturday in the early kick-off. Thanks for that one Sky Sports.
Both sides come into this fixture having failed to win their opening game – City losing 1-0 to Cardiff City (more on that later) and Wigan drawing 0-0 with Lancashire rivals Preston North End.
The last time we faced Wigan it was another early kickoff at the DW Stadium and we came away with a 1-1 draw thanks to a late Teemu Pukki goal in a cagey affair. When we last hosted the Latics at Carrow Road there was a late winner from the penalty spot thanks to Mario Vrancic.
Another statistic that City fans might like – or see as a typical ‘Along Come Norwich’ stat – is that Wigan have not beaten us at Carrow Road since March 2015, and have only beaten us twice in the last 10 meetings. However, four of those meetings have been drawn.
But enough about the past – let’s have a look at the present and go into detail about how these sides performed in their opening games. I’ll try my best not to jump on the negativity bandwagon or make out that Wigan are there to be trampled all over.
Our attack struggled last week against Cardiff. Whether that was them being unlucky with the final pass or simply trying to do much is a different matter but some fans were quick to call for Dean Smith’s head as a result of his “lack of tactics”.
For me, it’s far too early in a long season to make judgements like that.
I admit the performance in Cardiff was lacklustre and was well below expectations against much poorer opposition, but results like that happen in the Championship every week.
However, it is clear that the players and team management need to work out their strengths and what areas can be improved to prevent a result that could turn Carrow Road toxic.
Wigan have only seen one summer arrival in Ryan Nyambe from Blackburn Rovers on a free transfer, and Gavin Massey leaving for Port Vale seems to be the only outgoing of note. They’ve kept the majority of the squad that got them up and they’ll be desperate to stay in this division.
Manager Leam Richardson has done a brilliant job since arriving in November 2020 – saving his side from relegation to League Two in the 2020-21 season following the club being entered into administration and then getting them promoted last season.
He’s the man trusted by the club’s owners and looks as if he’s taking them in the right direction. A direct contrast to Smith in the eyes of many punters.
Jamie got his predictions spot on for both sides last week in last week’s MFW preview, so I’ve a lot to live up to!
Norwich (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Gibson, Omobamidele, Giannoulis; McLean, Sorenson; Cantwell, Sara, Rashica; Pukki
I’m expecting two changes by Smith from the Cardiff loss – Ben Gibson to come for Grant Hanley due to his sending off and Gabriel Sara to make his debut in place of Josh Sargent.
I don’t think the back four should change apart from Hanley. Max Aarons has cemented that right-back spot for the entire season, Andy Omobamidele is the right player to start rather than throwing young Jonathan Tomkinson in at the deep end, and Dimi Giannoulis seems to be favoured more than Sam McCallum by Smith.
In terms of the attacking four, I think Sara has to start this game. He’s a club record signing and he’s fully fit and ready to prove himself to the Norwich fans and his manager that he was worth every penny. I do think it’ll be too early for Marcelino Nunez – but wouldn’t be surprised if he featured off the bench.
Todd Cantwell was our best player last week, Milot Rashica should, theoretically, breeze past their fullbacks (or you would like to think he would) and Sargent looked like a passenger last week, so it’s no good having him start when you have new signings who are desperate for minutes.
Wigan (4-2-3-1): Amos; Darikwa, Whatmough, Tilt, Bennett; Power, Naylor; Land, Keane, McClean; Magennis
I’m not expecting any changes from Wigan’s 0-0 draw with Preston, simply as this is their strongest XI, and that is exactly what they’ll need if they are to have any chance of getting a result on Saturday.
Former Ipswich Town man Will Keane could prove dangerous for our defence as he won the League One Golden Boot last season with 26 goals but if he is kept quiet, I can’t see Wigan getting a sniff. But, then again, I thought that watching Cardiff last week, and we’ll all know how that turned out.
City have been the better side in this fixture historically but our current form isn’t good with three consecutive losses if you include the pre-season games in Scotland. The Canaries have a bright chance to get back to form against an, on paper, ordinary Wigan side.
Wigan have been playing well and had a decent pre-season, and will look to capitalise on this by making it hard for Norwich and frustrating them and the home crowd.
But I’m expecting us to win. We’ve got the better side, we’re at home, the players will be desperate to please the home fans and make them forget last week.
So, would you make any changes to my starting XI? And do you fancy City picking up their first win of the season?
Smith will be desperate to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later. But, Wigan could prove troublesome and cause a shock result like Cardiff did last week. Let’s hope that isn’t the case.
Also, if you’re interested in listening to Allan Kemp and Val Tolhurst talk through City vs Wigan encounters of yesteryear, then ‘Al and Val’s We Meet Again’ podcasts can be heard on Spotify…
And on iTunes…