Our ambitions of retaining the Premier League title face a tough test this weekend when we travel to Norfolk to take on Norwich City. Under the stewardship of Paul Lambert, Norwich have jumped through two divisions and any thoughts of being overawed buy the Premier League have, quickly, been put to bed.
With the Europa League now being on our agenda, with its Thursday night fixtures, we`re going to have to get accustomed to these Sunday fixtures but our chief rivals for the title, City, are in the same boat. All in all it promises to be an exhilarating Sunday afternoon.
After suffering a loss to Ajax, on Thursday evening, Sir Alex offered a quote that forms the basis of our pre-match comments. Talking about having a strong squad, after experimenting with a youthful defensive line-up, the wily Scot remarked,
“We`re going to need a strong squad if we`re to combine Thursday / Sunday all the way to the final.”
He was, of course, referring to his decision to pick a youthful back four, a decision that backfired on him. Therefore, with City and ourselves locked in a title race, Sir Alex to play anything other than his strongest starting eleven at Carrow Road this Sunday.
Norwich Team News:
Norwich City can, probably, be deemed as a side that has no real stars in, but a side that work hard for each other, do exactly what their excellent young manager, Paul Lambert says, and gel better than many others of their stature. Occasionally, as the signing of the young defender, Ryan Bennett shows, they splash the cash, but they work to a budget and stick to their principles. They`ve picked up some excellent players by doing sensible business with Steve Morison being a prime example. But, to their credit, they`ve also given a chance to those who have served them well in recent promotion chasing seasons, most notably Grant Holt. For that they have our total admiration.
Aside from the gushing praise though, Paul Lambert should be able to welcome back Zak Whitbread this weekend after the defender looks set to end a long lay-off from injury.
Earlier this season, our Belgian defender, Richie De Laet, was on loan at Carrow Road but circumstances decreed that he returned to us.
Player to watch: Steve Morison
The Welsh striker has continue dot score as he`s moved through the leagues and he could be a real threat to our hopes of taking all three points if we give him the chance, definitely one to watch.
United Team News:
Sir Alex Ferguson takes his squad into what will become common place, courtesy of our Europa League participation, a Sunday kick-off, hoping that Wayne Rooney will have shaken off the throat infection that saw him ruled out of the Ajax fixture. Definitely out of contention though, through injury, are Nemanja Vidic, Darren Fletcher and Anders Lindegaard whilst Anderson, having just returned to training, is unlikely to be considered for selection. But we expect Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans to return to bolster a defence that looked a little fragile against Ajax on Thursday.
Player to watch: Ryan Giggs
Appearance number 900, or will we be disappointed again?
Match Facts & Stats
As this is Norwich`s first season in the Premier League, there is no history of how we have previously done at Carrow Road, so wouldn`t it be nice to set the ball rolling with a good win!
Until they held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw, Norwich hadn`t kept a clean sheet all season. Nevertheless, their apparent failure to keep a clean sheet hasn`t affected their form with the Canaries being tipped to not only stay up but complete a very creditable first season back in the Premier League by cementing a mid-table finish. If that is to be the cause then they`ll have to do it on the back of a United victory at Carrow Road, because, to be honest, I can`t see us losing, can you?
Following our venture into Norfolk we head of to London for our next Premier League fixture when we take on Harry Redknapp and a side Sir Alex has described a splaying the best football in the Premier League, Spurs.