Everything you need to know ahead of our trip to WearsideSUNDERLAND v NORWICH CITY
Barclays Premier League
Stadium of Light
Saturday December 21, 2013
The Canaries kick-off their busy festive schedule with a trip to Premier League basement club Sunderland on Saturday afternoon.
Chris Hughton’s men will play the first of five games in 15 days when they take to pitch at the Stadium of Light, with a Carrow Road double-header against Fulham and Manchester United to follow.
City rose to 14th in the table after last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Swansea City, and will be looking for another boost to their away form record books after the impressive 2-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion from their last trip on the road the week before.
Gus Poyet’s Sunderland are guaranteed to be bottom of the division at Christmas but will take confidence from their midweek Capital One Cup exploits against Chelsea, where they came from behind to win 2-1 and progress to a semi-final meeting with Manchester United.
Last season’s corresponding fixture was notable for Mark Bunn’s controversial sending off for handling outside the area, and the Canaries’ subsequent performance that saw them earn a single point from a 1-1 draw but from which they arguably deserved all three.
Norwich lead the overall head-to-head record between the two clubs, having triumphed in 25 of the 56 meetings. Sunderland have won 17 – including four of the last five games at the Stadium of Light – while there has been 14 draws.
MOST RECENT COMPETITIVE MEETINGS…
Sunderland 1-1 NORWICH CITY 17/03/2013 – Premier League
NORWICH CITY 2-1 Sunderland 02/12/2012 – Premier League
Sunderland 3-0 NORWICH CITY 01/02/2012 – Premier League
NORWICH CITY 2-1 Sunderland 26/09/2011 – Premier League
NORWICH CITY 1-4 Sunderland 24/08/2009 – League Cup
LAST TIME AROUND… Sunderland 1-1 Norwich City, March 17 2013 – Premier League…
Norwich City earned a valuable point in a controversial encounter with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light back in March.
Wes Hoolahan poked home Kei Kamara’s header to give the Canaries a merited advantage, but they then saw Mark Bunn dismissed for an alleged handball outside the box.
Craig Gardner then levelled the game up from the penalty spot after Sebastien Bassong’s handball, but City remained the side on top and could have won if Grant Holt hadn’t spurned a glorious chance in the final moments after a heavy touch.
Chris Hughton said afterwards: "Everybody will speak about three big decisions, but I owe it to this group of lads to praise the quality of the performance.
"Yes, they had a lot of shots from outside the box, a lot of crosses we had to deal with and well, but I can't praise my players highly enough, to be down to 10 men for as long as we were.
"I thought in normal play we had probably the best chance of the game when Grant was through - if his touch was a little bit softer, he was on for a one v one.
"But I can't remember a clear chance that Sunderland had, so I think we have got to give credit to a group of lads who were desperate to get something out of this game.
BLACK CATS’ FORM…
W – 2-1 (AET) v Chelsea (H) 17/12/2013 – League Cup Quarter-Final
D – 0-0 v West Ham United (A) 14/12/2013 – Premier League
L – 1-2 v Tottenham Hotspur (H) 07/12/2013 – Premier League
L – 3-4 v Chelsea (H) 04/12/2013 – Premier League
D – 0-0 v Aston Villa (A) 30/11/2013 – Premier League
D – 1-1 v Swansea City (H) 15/12/2013 – Premier League
W – 2-0 v West Bromwich Albion (A) 07/12/2013 – Premier League
L – 1-5 v Liverpool (A) 04/12/2013 – Premier League
W – 1-0 v Crystal Palace (H) 30/11/2013 – Premier League
L – 1-2 v Newcastle United (A) 23/11/2013 – Premier League
LAST SUNDERLAND XI (4-2-3-1 v Chelsea)…
Vito Mannone; Ondrej Celustka, Wes Brown, John O’Shea (c), Andrea Dossena; Lee Cattermole, Craig Gardner; Adam Johnson, Sebastian Larsson, Emanuele Giaccherini; Jozy Altidore.
LAST NORWICH CITY XI (4-4-2 v Swansea City)…
John Ruddy; Steven Whittaker, Michael Turner, Sebastien Bassong (c), Martin Olsson; Nathan Redmond, Jonny Howson, Bradley Johnson, Leroy Fer; Johan Elmander, Gary Hooper.
REFEREE – Martin Atkinson…
West Yorkshire referee Martin Atkinson has the impressive record of not having sent a single player off yet this season in his 16 matches.
Most recently, Atkinson was in charge of the top-of-the-table clash between Manchester City and Arsenal that Manuel Pellegrini’s side memorably won 6-3 at the Etihad Stadium.
This is his first Norwich City game of the campaign, while on his one visit to the Stadium of Light he saw Arsenal triumph 3-1 back in September.
Atkinson’s last match overseeing the Canaries was the 2-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion a year ago on Sunday.
BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE FIXTURES…
Liverpool v Cardiff City (12.45)
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United
Fulham v Manchester City
Manchester United v West Ham United
Stoke City v Aston Villa
SUNDERLAND v NORWICH CITY
West Bromwich Albion v Hull City
Southampton v Tottenham Hotspur (Sunday, 13.30)
Swansea City v Everton (Sunday, 16.00)
Arsenal v Chelsea (Monday, 20.00)