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Norwich v Manchester United Preview: Lambert’s Entertaining Canaries Lie In Wait

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After scrapping past Ajax in the Europa League, Manchester United’s focus returns back to the Premier League this weekend as the reigning Champions travel to Carrow Road for the first time in just under seven years to face Norwich City.

Paul Lambert’s side have (alike fellow promoted-side Swansea City) have been a breath of fresh air to the Premier League this season and there are similarities between them and Blackpool who last season played an attacking (at times fearless) style of play.

Unlike Blackpool though who got relegated last season, Norwich as of yet haven’t hit a bad patch this season picking up points on a regular basis and are only five points short of the ‘magic’ security buffer that’s 40 points, which usually keeps teams up.

At Old Trafford earlier in the season, the 2-0 victory flattered United as for the best parts of the game Norwich were giving as good as they got and should have travelled back home with a point had Anthony Pilkington made the most of a clear opportunity though on goal.

Make no mistake about it, Grant Holt is the Canary most likely to cause United trouble tomorrow. He is an old-fashioned forward who has waited a long time to reach the Premier League and is certainly making up for lost time.

Holt will be a threat in the air and United’s defence will have to make sure that the forward nicknamed the Beast, will not be able to bully David De Gea in the air so it’s vital that no silly set-pieces are given away which Norwich will threaten from.

So what can we expect from tomorrow’s game. What will be the key battles on the pitch? 

Rio Ferdinand v Grant Holt

Sir Alex Ferguson blamed the inexperience of United’s defence for the loss against Ajax in mid-week and you can rest assured that Ferdinand will be brought back into the fold with the sole purpose of using his experience to keep Holt quiet.

Holt has scored 9 goals in the league to date and despite only being seen for his power and heading ability has shown good skill and awareness on the ball, which has certainly played into the hands of his strike-partners Steve Morison and Simeon Jackson.

Michael Carrick v Bradley Johnson

Much was expected of Johsnon when he left Leeds United in the summer to join Norwich. Would the talented midfielder be able to make it in the Premier League and shine in a new environment away from Elland Road where he had grown comfortable?

Thankfully for Paul Lambert, Johnson has looked steady this season matching up well in Norwich’s hard-working midfield. He will be under pressure tomorrow to control the game against Carrick who really comes into the game in great form.

Wayne Rooney v Zak Whitbread

After missing United’s defeat to Ajax, Rooney should come straight back in to face Norwich, who he was unfortunate not to score against earlier in the season. He will threaten tomorrow alongside either Javier Hernandez or Danny Welbeck.

American Whitbread has a key component of Norwich’s defence this season and will come back into the side after recovering from injury. The former Liverpool youngster will have to be at his best to keep Rooney quiet and even then that might not be enough.

In terms of a prediction for the game, as stated earlier on in a on in a predictions article, I can see United winning this one comfortably 3-0, which would be a great result considering Norwich’s proud home-record in the league this season.

However it wouldn’t surprise me if Norwich make United work hard for their goals and I can see the game being goalless at half-time. Lambert will set out his side to win the game and if they score first and defend well in numbers, it could be one of those frustrating days for United.

By Adam Dennehey @ADennehey87