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Match Previews

Match Preview: Norwich City v Manchester United

24 October 2019

Premier League football returns to Carrow Road this weekend as Norwich City host Manchester United on Sunday (4.30pm KO).

Our Match Preview includes insight from a local journalist to discuss the opposition in detail, an overview of this fixture’s history, and a look at who will be the man in the middle for the game.

There are also details for United fans travelling to Norwich, including security information, as well as a guide on how to follow the action for those who aren’t at the ground.

The opposition

It’s been patchy at best for Man United this season, especially given the expectations for the club to be challenging for places near the top of the league. Things got off to a flying start when they hammered Chelsea 4-0 on the opening day of the 2019-20 season, but that wasn’t an indication of the form that followed.

United failed to win the next three games against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Crystal Palace and Southampton – all teams they’d be expecting to beat.

There were signs of improvement in September, as 1-0 wins against Leicester City in the Premier League and FC Astana in the Europa League hinted at getting things back on track, but points were then dropped to West Ham United and Arsenal, while Rochdale took Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side to penalties in the Carabao Cup.

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This month, there has again been little to celebrate. Draws against AZ Alkmaar and Liverpool sandwiched a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United, as critics begin to question where the problems lie.

Summer signing Daniel James has undoubtedly been the star man for the Red Devils, taking games by the scruff of the neck and managing three goals and one assist in the league so far. Marcus Rashford has been the other main source of points, with four goals and two assists to his name.

Tactical analysis

Jurgen Klopp said it was a ‘fact’ that Manchester United always opt for a defensive approach against his Liverpool side, even at Old Trafford. On Sunday, that was certainly the case, and while it might not be the most enthralling setup, it did prove effective for United and earned them a point against the team that couldn’t stop winning.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted to go for a back five out of possession, allowing wing-backs Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Ashley Young to limit the space out wide for Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold – two of Liverpool’s most influential creators of chances.

Similarly, the three centre-backs – Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire and Marcos Rojo – gave Roberto Firmino no room to manoeuvre. The Brazilian often found himself trapped when looking for pockets of space, with defensive midfielders Scott McTominay and Fred dropping back to mark him if the defenders hadn’t stepped out.

The 3-5-2/5-3-2 formation allowed Marcus Rashford to have more support up front than in recent weeks. Rather than being played as a number nine sole striker, Rashford had Daniel James alongside him and Andreas Pereira just behind, occupying a number ten/false nine role.

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Rashford and James pinned themselves on Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip, but when Pereira bombed forward to stretch Liverpool’s defence, the two United strikers were allowed more space in and around the penalty area, with Liverpool’s full-backs rarely sitting deep, such is their philosophy to be a part of the attack. Pereira essentially created an overload of three on two on the Liverpool centre-backs, and Jurgen Klopp’s men struggled to cope.

On the 36th minute, James exploited acres of space on the right wing as Robertson had failed to recover from a United counter-attack. James used his time efficiently to put a good cross in, which Rashford dispatched with only Matip deep enough to challenge him.

Head-to-head

Historically, it should come as little surprise that United have a favourable head-to-head record over City. The former have won 37, drawn 15 and lost 17 of the 69 meetings between the two sides.

Last time they met, Juan Mata scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for United at Carrow Road in May 2016, as the Canaries hopes of surviving in the top-flight faded away. Despite getting a 4-2 win in the next game at home to Watford, City couldn’t escape 19th place and were sent back down to the Championship following a 3-0 defeat to Everton.

City last beat United in the first half of that same season, winning 2-1 at Old Trafford thanks to goals from Cameron Jerome and Alex Tettey, Anthony Martial’s second half strike not enough to salvage any points for Louis van Gaal’s side.

As for the last time we beat United on home soil, that was back in November 2012. Anthony Pilkington’s goal on the hour mark was enough to separate the two sides as City edged to a 1-0 win against the team then second in the league.

Ref watch

Stuart Attwell will be the man in the middle for Sunday’s fixture. Attwell has overseen four Premier League games, one Championship game and three Europa League games so far this season, handing out 45 yellow cards and one red card across those matches.

He was last appointed to officiate a Norwich game for our 3-1 win at home to Newcastle United in August, when he handed out just three yellow cards.

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For this weekend’s fixture, his assistants will be Constantine Hatzidakis and Richard West, with Oliver Langford the fourth official. David Coote and Nick Hopton will be overseeing VAR.

Info for supporters

There will be a minute's silence ahead of kick-off to remember Norwich City legend Duncan Forbes, who passed away aged 78 this week. The players will also be wearing black armbands. For more details, click here.

This weekend’s game will be dedicated to the No Room For Racism campaign, with on-pitch branding including a ball plinth, pitch flag and handshake arch, which will replace the regular equivalents for this game.

The game is also dedicated to Norwich City Community Sports Foundation’s #BuildTheNest campaign, with the Norwich players’ shirts having ‘#BuildTheNest’ printed on the front below the Dafabet logo.

To find out more about the campaign, click here. The matchday programme for this weekend’s game will be priced at £4.50, £1 more than usual, with the extra pound going towards the CSF to help build The Nest.

Supporters are asked to "Bring A Pound To The Ground" and donate at one of the large number of collection buckets around the stadium on Sunday. These points will also be accepting contactless payments.

We have a guide for all supporters heading to Carrow Road. It has lots of information about getting to Carrow Road, prohibited items, stadium opening times and much more. Click here to view it.

Away fans now have a dedicated venue to attend prior to the match kicking off. The Waterfront, situated on King Street, has a beer garden with a licensed bar offering a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and food vendors.

Please note that the majority of kiosks in the stadium this season have contactless-only tills. In the away end, the left-hand lanes of kiosks are contactless-only.

Over at Carrow Park, representatives of the Community Sports Foundation’s disability football programme will play a fixture against their Manchester United counterparts as part of the usual FanZone activities before the game.

How to follow

For Sunday’s #NR1Live, Darren Eadie will be joined in the studio by Anthony Ogogo and Adrian Forbes. The show starts at 4pm and fans can subscribe here.

We will be running regular updates on our Twitter account, including reaction after the final whistle.

There will also be a minute-by-minute live match blog on canaries.co.uk and you can also receive updates on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

Canary fans can also sign up to the Norwich City WhatsApp group to receive the starting line-up ahead of the game sent straight to your phone, as well as the half-time and full-time score and game highlights. Click HERE to sign up.


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