Manchester United v Norwich City
Sir Alex Ferguson on facing Norwich City before Real Madrid: “Tomorrow (Norwich) is an important one because Tuesday (Madrid) will look after itself. It’s an occasion on Tuesday whereas tomorrow is the mundane practical situation in that we need to win.”
A win for the reds will once again see a 15 point gap open up at the top of the Premier League table. Despite hobbling off during last week’s win at QPR, Robin van Persie is fit and available for selection should Sir Alex desire. Phil Jones, however, while having an outside chance of featuring on Tuesday night, will definitely miss out. Paul Scholes (knee) and Darren Fletcher are the only other players who will certainly be missing. Elsewhere, still striving for full match fitness, Wayne Rooney should start. With the Real Madrid 2nd leg just over 72 hours after this fixture, expect team selection to more than bare this in mind. Not that any of the players are taking this game lightly, with Patrice Evra saying this week, “We have to win – if we go into Tuesday after losing against Norwich, it’s going to be a nightmare.” Finally, with his 1,000th career appearance in sight, and news of his new contract all over the media this week, expect Ryan Giggs to feature, if not start.
Predicted United line-up: De Gea, Smalling, Vidic, Evans, Buttner, Nani, Cleverley, Anderson, Giggs, Rooney, Hernandez
Home record: P13 W12 D0 L1 F34 A15 Pts36
Home form: W W W W W W
Manager Chris Hughton on his side’s trip to Old Trafford: “Any win at Old Trafford would have to see us play extremely well and for United to have one of their rare off days. But you have to go into every game hoping that you can get that result.”
Last weekend’s 2-1 home victory over Everton was Norwich’s first win in 10 games. It was the first time they had come from behind to win a Premier League fixture this season. In fact, they have managed just one win away from home all campaign. They will be buoyed, of course, by their 1-0 home victory over United back in November. The Canaries will be without midfielders Alex Tettey and Andrew Surman (both knee) and goalkeeper John Ruddy (thigh). Norwich could rise as high as 10th with a famous Old Trafford victory.
Predicted Norwich line-up: Bunn, Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido, Johnson, Snodgrass, Howson, Hoolahan, Pilkington, Holt
Away record: P13 W1 D6 L6 F11 A26 Pts9
Away form: D W L L L D
Previous meetings at Old Trafford
United 2-0 Norwich (01-10-11), United 2-1 Norwich (21-08-04), United 1-0 Norwich (03-12-94), United 2-2 Norwich (04-12-93)
Neil Swarbrick. The 42-year-old has officiated 11 matches in this season’s Premier League, brandishing 37 yellows cards and not a single red card. He has awarded 1 penalty. It will be the Lancashire official’s debut at Old Trafford.
2012/13 head-to-head (PL)
Goals: (United) 64 – (Norwich) 27
Conceded: 31 – 41
Top scorer: Robin van Persie (19) – Grant Holt (5)
Assists: Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney (7) – Robert Snodgrass (4)
Most appearances: Robin van Persie (24/3) – Bradley Johnson (26)
Best passer: Michael Carrick (75.9/87.5%) – Alexander Tettey (49.2/83.6%)
Disciplinary: 43 yellows, 0 reds – 34 yellows, 0 reds
Average possession: 56.2% – 43.6%
Pass success rate: 85.6% – 74.5%
Shots per game: 15.0 – 11.5
Shot conceded per game: 13.5 – 14
If he features, Ryan Giggs will make his 1,000th career appearance. It will be his 932nd in the red of Manchester United.
A goal for the Welshman will also make him United’s joint-highest all-time goalscorer vs Norwich City with 6 goals.
Jonny Evans could make his 150th Manchester United appearance.
Patrice Evra (5) has one more assist to his name than Norwich’s best goal provider – Robert Snodgrass with 4.
Norwich last won at Old Trafford in August 1989, a 2-0 win in the old Division One.
Rafael’s goal against QPR was United’s 12th by a defender this season – the highest in the Premier League.
Only Stoke and West Ham (8) have scored fewer goals away from home than Norwich City’s 11. Robin van Persie has 10.
Score prediction: United 3-1 Norwich