With a new weekend brings a new fixture for Norwich City’s Under-18s, this time another cup tie for the Canaries, as they face Stoke in the quarter-final of the Premier League Cup.
It’s been a week to forget for the Canaries, who were seen out of the FA Youth Cup in the fourth-round by Manchester United. The Academy, who have seen a graduate play for the first-team for over 4000 games in a row, overcame the Canaries 2-0 after a penalty and set-piece from a corner.
The defeat means the Canaries have won two, drawn two and lost one of their last five fixtures. Even with a loss, it’s still a record to be proud of, especially when the quality of the teams played is taken into account.
A win would be massive for the Canaries, maintaining their presence in a tournament, all whilst keeping their impressive resurgence in the league going. Should City progress, they could face a whole host of prestigious opponents.
These teams include Manchester City (Who are current champions of the cup), Chelsea (Who were previously champions), Brighton (Who the Canaries drew with recently) and Everton (Who the Canaries beat in the group stage to progress through the tournament.)
The Canaries last met the Potters back in April of the 2016-17 season, the game ending in a 1-1 draw. A result similar to this is impossible for this fixture, so it’s make or break for City.
Stoke are tough opponents to face, the Potters are 4th in the U18s Premier League North, just trailing Manchester City, Liverpool and Everton.
The Potters have won three and lost two of their last five games, only losing to Liverpool and Bradford, the latter game being lost on penalties in the FA Youth Cup.
Under-18s goalkeeper Sam Blair is looking forward to the game, saying that a lot of the fun in the tournament comes from playing new teams.
“I’m really excited for the game coming up, it’s nothing like I’ve been in before. It’s a great because you get the opportunity to try something different, in a really good cup.
"You get to play teams you haven’t maybe played before, coming up against Stoke is a first for me, so I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we can get a good result.”
Speaking on the recent FA Youth Cup defeat, Blair insisted that the team had put it behind them soon after the final whistle, and started looking ahead to their cup tie against Stoke straight away.
“I think we’ve all taken the loss well. It was a mix of three games in nine days with Stoke coming up. We just knew we had to put it behind us and focus on Stoke. We all know it just was one of them games where we didn’t play as well as we could have but you’ve got to look forward.”
After seeing their unbeaten streak wiped away by the United side, Blair said they were just looking to build on what they could ever since coming away from Everton with a win to progress through to the quarter-finals.
“Well up until the Youth Cup we were on a really good streak of six games unbeaten. It all started when we played Everton and got a good result there, we kind of thought to ourselves ‘Hang on, we can get some good results together here, there’s nothing in front of us that can stop that.’ So, we just did what we could, and it turned out well.”