The Canaries finally got back to winning ways in midweek, defeating Preston North End 2-0 at Carrow Road in arguably the home side’s worst performance of the season. Alex Tettey was the worst of a bad bunch of Norwich players that night, and said so himself in his press conference after the game, yet scored the second goal with an absolutely world-class half-volley from outside of the box.
That’s football for you; statistics, momentum, form books – all are utterly meaningless in the face of the simple truth that goals (and a bit of luck) win games.
Norwich fans will certainly hope that their team are able to prove this true on Saturday, with league leaders Leeds well and truly favourites ahead of their visit to Carrow Road.
Saturday 25th August, 15:00
Norwich City: DLLW
Leeds United: WWWD
Leeds come to Carrow Road undefeated so far this season, and in fine goalscoring form to boot. They have so far swept aside Stoke 3-1, Derby 1-4, and Rotherham 2-0, as well as drawing 2-2 with Swansea in midweek.
Those are solid results against two relegated teams, a big win away at free-spending Derby, and a further win in a kinda-sorta local derby. Couple that with eleven goals scored and just four against and it is a mightily impressive start to the season.
Norwich, with just one win this season, will be the underdogs coming into this one. But traditionally, and in recent history last season, the team has played better when this has been the case. City are no slouches in front of goal, either, with eight goals to their name so far this season and Teemu Pukki is in great form, scoring once in each of his three home outings so far this season (including the League Cup).
Norwich 19 wins, Leeds United 22 wins, 16 draws.
Overall Leeds have the marginally better record in this fixture, but it’s close. In the last ten fixtures, City have won three times, Leeds have won three times, and there have been four draws.
Recent bragging rights arguably reside in East Anglia, however, after Chris Martin’s 89th-minute header at Carrow Road in 2010 all but confirmed that the League One trophy would be draped in yellow and green, as City tore past long-time league leaders United to take the title by nine points.
Norwich’s last league win before Preston also came against Leeds; that 2-1 victory back in April as Wes Hoolahan bid an emotional farewell (a Pontus Jansson goal had settled a 1-0 victory for Leeds at Elland Road in the reverse fixture).
The return of Jamal Lewis has been massive for City, and he should start again against Leeds to continue to resolve the trouble position of Left Back that plagued the first games of the season.
Ivo Pinto went off exhausted against Preston after 74 minutes but should be ready for Saturday’s encounter. If not, Marshall could deputise at Right Back to allow Buendia to start on the flank – keeping City within the rules for homegrown players while also allowing Emi to build on an exciting mid-week cameo performance.
City need to remind players to keep their shirts on, incidentally, with both Hernandez and Tettey picking up needless yellow cards for late celebrations in recent weeks.
Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa will have just about a full squad to pick from, and will probably look to stick with a similar starting eleven as they aim to continue their promotion push.
Norwich City 1-1 Leeds United
A draw would, realistically, seem to be the best case scenario for City in this one. Leeds are on fire at the minute and despite a weight having been lifted from this Norwich side in midweek, performances have not been great.
Norwich have attacking players in form and enough firepower to score, but the same is even more true of Leeds so I can’t see this finishing goalless. Leeds will dominate the match but City will stick in there and hold on for a draw that will boost morale as much as any win.
Potential Norwich Lineup (4-1-4-1):
Pinto, Klose, Hanley (C), Lewis,
Marshall, Pukki, Leitner, Hernandez,
Picture Credit: Norwich Evening News