Arguably it was a perfect time last weekend for Burnley to play Norwich and the worst time for Watford to face Manchester City. Watford certainly experienced the sting on the tail from the niggled Citizens, the Canaries had to get themselves up for Burnley after the adrenaline-fuelled, energy-sapping victory enjoyed under the floodlights at Carrow Road.
The poles apart styles offered from Sean Dyche compared to Pep Guardiola created a new challenge for the Canary defence.
The Clarets got their tactics spot on. 25 minutes of intense pressing suffocated City’s passing game in attempting to bring the ball out from keeper Tim Krul. Added to this, the big lad Chris Wood who for the first finish got ahead of the central defender at the front post from a corner and for his second, the defence were turned by a poor pass out from makeshift centre back Ibrahim Amadou.
The omens were not good with Krul requiring painkillers for a warm-up back spasm and captain Alex Tettey leaving the field before the first goal with a muscle injury. Most City fans expected something from the game. Tettey’s replacement Moritz Leitner made a positive difference and was unlucky with a first-half strike which hit the post whilst 2-0 down.
City at this stage will stick to their plans, dust themselves down, go again and attempt to win the game against a side struggling to score goals.
Palace are a modern-day bogey team for Norwich having only produced two wins in the last 17 attempts going back to 2003. A home 1-0 win in the Championship in 2007 and more recently another 1-0 in 2013, this time in the Premier League.
A phenomenal game that sticks in my mind as a fledgeling Canary, 10 years of age to be precise, 24th April 1973, Norwich beat Palace 2-1 with City goals from Stringer and Suggett and a reply from Rogers which virtually condemned the Eagles to relegation. Palace finished on 30 points whilst Norwich survived ending up in 20th position on 32 points. It was the Canaries first season in the top flight. Over 35,000 watched the game at Carrow Road. An amazing finish considering City were bottom with just five games left.
My first trip to Selhurst Park was a 0-0 draw on New Years Day back in 1980 when over 30,254 packed into the ground. Charlton Athletic had suffered a call off due to a frozen pitch and a good-sized group of Addicks fans had turned up to stand behind the goal with us Canary fans to cheer the Yellows on for the afternoon.
There were some great Carabao Cup upsets this week, I was routing for Rochdale who came very close to toppling ManUre. How good must it have been for 16-year-old Matheson to score at Old Trafford for Rochdale? Also in the team was ex Canary (22 games, two goals) and Eagle (25 games), Aaron Wilbraham who coolly slotted away a penalty at the death.
As for Saturday, I would not be surprised if Grant Handley returns to the starting 11 as the traditional centre back and Ibrahim Amadou slotting into his favoured defensive midfield position. I would also like to see Leitner start the game as he offers a calm head and the ability to hold and release the ball in tight areas.
I expect a Norwich win, now that we have an objective German Manager in Daniel Farke. Form, recent results and bogey teams mean nothing. 2-0 to City.