Norwich City will be looking to win three successive home games at Carrow Road as they host relegation-fighting Cardiff City on Saturday afternoon.
Both sides come into this game with wins in their midweek fixtures – Norwich beating Birmingham City 3-1 while the Bluebirds beat Reading 1-0 thanks to a stoppage-time winner from Romaine Sawyers
The last time we played Cardiff at Carrow Road there were just 2000 fans in attendance due to the COVID-19 rules and we won 2-0 thanks to goals from two players no longer at the club – Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell. But when we met earlier in the season back on the opening day in July, it was a 1-0 defeat with Grant Hanley and Perry Ng being sent off and Sawyers scoring the winner.
We also haven’t lost to the Bluebirds at Carrow Road since April 2018 where we lost 3-1 and have seven wins in the last 14 meetings alongside five defeats and two draws.
So the past encounters may swing the odds in our favour but with how we consistently inconsistent we have been these last few games, some might say Cardiff could spring a surprise despite their league position.
When I last wrote a match preview, we had Alan Russell in the dugout and drew 1-1 with Reading. Two months later, David Wagner has come in and implemented a clear style of play and has us playing some spectacular football at times.
Against Birmingham, every player in our team looked like they wanted it. Yet again the style and identity showcased helped us win the game and, in my opinion, looked clear to anyone watching the game, whether that be in the stadium or on iFollow, which ended the way we all wanted. Especially when Nunez is scoring an absolute rocket.
Cardiff, on the other hand, have been in the relegation dogfight in the Championship for the majority of this season. Many predicted them for a rough season, and that’s exactly what they’re experiencing. Only one place above the relegation zone, albeit four points clear but they do have an extra game played than Huddersfield in 22nd.
The Bluebirds have two wins in their last five games – scoring four and conceding five – but those wins have come in their last two league games against the aforementioned Birmingham City and Reading; the latter result being a huge morale boost given how close they are in the league table.
They are now under the management of Sabri Lamouchi, a man who did a good job with Nottingham Forest, but it probably says a lot when they went from bottom of the league to winning the playoffs after he was sacked.
Kieran Dowell is now out until April with a ligament injury and Josh Sargent may not be back until the international break but apart from that City have the same players available that featured in midweek, Teemu Pukki could also return from injury based on his performance in training on Friday.
As for Cardiff, Lamouchi will have the same set of players available but Callum Robinson’s return could mean he replaces either Kion Etete or Sory Kaba in attack:
Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Gunn; Aarons, Hanley, Gibson, Giannoulis; McLean, Sara; Tzolis, Hernandez, Nunez; Idah
I expect Wagner to stick with his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation as this seems to be the one we usually operate since his arrival at the club. I’m also expecting one change from the last starting XI, Christos Tzolis to come in after his goal off the bench in midweek for the injured Dowell.
I expect Nunez to again provide creativity in this side, as he had so much room to work with against Birmingham.
As I stated in my first-ever piece for MFW, Adam Idah needs to step up to the plate now that his opportunity has arrived. He’s currently our only fully fit striker and he’s only got one goal this season. Also with his new contract now signed, he won’t get a better chance to repay his new manager and the fans who doubt him.
Cardiff City (3-5-2): Allsop; Kipre, Ng, McGuinness; Romeo, Rinomhota, Sawyers, Wintle, O’Dowda; Etete, Kaba
I expect Lamouchi to revert to a back three given it worked in their game against Birmingham despite also winning with a back four against Reading. I’m also expecting two changes – Jaden Philogene-Bidace and Callum Robinson to be replaced by Mahlon Romeo and Andy Rinomhota
They may well have a weaker team on paper but as we have learned through our misfortune, we are more than capable of dropping points in a game like this.
Given the recent developments at Carrow Road, I can see us winning this one.
Both teams have big reasons to win. Cardiff will move further of the relegation zone with a victory in East Anglia, but our players have to prove to the fans they are capable of a late promotion push to stand any chance of getting to the Premier League.
But at the same time, we may well drop points as we have had so many up and down periods this season, but I think the fans will be a big factor in making sure we get all three. Hopefully, the players have the same attitude.
Carrow Road needs to be bouncing for this fixture. I’m so glad that the “City Elite” now seem like a staple with the drum as I strongly believe it enhances the matchday atmosphere and gives our players that extra incentive.
So, given all of that, I reckon we’ll win 2-1. But for all we know, Lamouchi could pull off a tactical masterclass and frustrate our team just like Wigan did a few games ago. Or that doesn’t happen and we blow them away.
So, would you make any changes to my starting XI? And do you fancy City picking up all three points on Saturday afternoon?
Let me know in our comment section below.