City face revitalised Norwich – Norwich City vs Manchester City Preview
League leaders Manchester City will travel down to Norfolk on the weekend, where they will meet Dean Smith's Norwich City. The Premier League tie will take place on Saturday the 12th of February and will kick off at 17:30 (GMT) – the reigning champions' 25th league game of the season.
If City manage to avoid defeat against the Canaries, it will be 12 unbeaten games on the bounce in all competitions for the Blues. The match at Carrow Road will be shown live on Sky Sports Main Event.
In his press conference, Guardiola confirmed that Gabriel Jesus and Cole Palmer are still out for City. Other than those two, everything else seems to be in order in the City squad going into the game with Norwich. With the Blues playing in the league on Saturday, and then in the Champions League on Tuesday, the squad depth and rotation starts to become key. I expect Guardiola will make changes to the side that beat Brentford in the week.
Ederson, Walker, Dias, Stones, Cancelo, Rodri, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Mahrez, Bernardo, Grealish
League position: 1st
Top scorer: De Bruyne, Mahrez, Sterling, Bernardo (7)
Previous result: W 2-0 v Brentford (H)
City took on an incredibly resilient Brentford side on Wednesday night, beating them 2-0 at the Etihad through Riyad Mahrez and Kevin De Bruyne. Mahrez became only the third ever player to score in seven consecutive matches in all competitions under Guardiola; the other two players being Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero – not bad company to be alongside.
The Blues had an incredible 76% possession against the Bees, in typical City fashion, and were controlling the tempo and the flow of the game. It was a pair of defensive errors, however, that led to the goals for City. The first from defender, Mads Roerslev. The Danish full-back lunged in and took Raheem Sterling down in the box, giving Darren England no choice but to point to the spot. Mahrez professionally dispatched the penalty, firing it into the top left corner. Sterling has now been awarded the most penalties in Premier League history with 23.
The second goal started with a blunder from goalkeeper David Raya. The Spaniard mistakenly played the ball directly into Sterling's feet – however, the England international failed to fire the ball past Raya. Despite the initial save from Sterling's effort, lightning did not strike twice for Raya and the rebound fell kindly for De Bruyne, who netted his 7th league goal of the season. It was another dominating display from Guardiola's men, taking the Blues to 60 points this season.
Joao Cancelo was as classy as ever against Brentford, looking a constant attacking threat from the left-hand side. His mazy run into the box, taking the ball past three defenders before having a shot on target was another reminder of the calibre of player the Blues have at left-back. The Portuguese international has 3 goals and 8 assists in all competitions this season, an incredible fete considering that he is technically playing on the wrong side of the pitch. Cancelo is having a superb season so far and has been instrumental in City's push for a 4th league title in just 5 seasons.
League position: 18th
Top scorer: Pukki (6)
Previous result: D 1-1 v Crystal Palace (H)
The tide appears to be turning for Smith's Norwich side, who have only lost 1 of their last 6 in all competitions. Prior to the last 6 games, Norwich had lost 5 games on the bounce, without scoring a single goal. Smith is clearly starting to influence the Canaries. The new man in charge appears to have revitalised the side, giving them a new lease of life in the top-flight. They are a team in form and will have their tails up going into the clash with the league leaders.
The Canaries are having a good run in the FA Cup so far. After beating Charlton in the 3rd round, they then went into an all-Premier League tie against a very compact Wolves side and came out on top through Kenny McLean. In their most recent outing, Norwich and Crystal Palace shared the points after a 1-1 draw at Carrow Road. Teemu Pukki put the Canaries in front in the 1st minute of the game, the fastest goal in the Premier League so far this season. Wilfried Zaha superbly equalised for Palace. Things seemed to be going from bad to worse for the Canaries moments after the equaliser when Paul Tierney pointed to the spot and awarded Palace with a penalty. Luck was with the Norwich on the day as Zaha uncharacteristically scuffed his effort wide.
Ex-City man Angus Gunn has been between the sticks for Norwich in recent matches due to first-choice keeper, Tim Krul, sustaining a shoulder injury. Gunn was part of City's youth setup from 2011 to 2017. After a year loan spell at Norwich in the 2017-18 season, he then made a permanent move to Southampton for a reported £10 million. Gunn was on the move again in the summer and signed for Norwich after a disappointing time at Southampton. Gunn kept a clean sheet on his return to Premier League action at the end of January in a 3-0 win for the Canaries. The 26-year-old also played in the 1-1 draw with Palace, producing a couple of very smart saves.
Pukki is the leading scorer for Smith's side, having scored 6 goals in 22 league appearances this season. The Finland international had a spectacular season in the Championship last year, scoring 26 goals in 41 appearances – however, he has largely struggled to replicate that form this season. The Canaries have only had 6 different scorers in the league so far, scoring just 14 goals in 23 games. Currently the league's lowest scorers, Norwich will be hoping Pukki can find some of the magic he was producing in the previous campaign, or else the Canaries might be fearing the worst as the business end of the season is looming.
The last time that City and Norwich met was at the start of the season, the Blues came out on top that time beating Norwich 5-0 at home. However, the last tip the Blues had to Carrow Road was not so successful. Goals from McLean, Cantwell and Pukki stunned the Blues in a 3-2 victory for the Canaries. The first time these two sides ever met was back in 1938 in the old second division; it was a 4-1 victory for City at Maine Road, with goals from Herd (2) and Doherty (2).
Referee: Andre Marriner
Assistants: Richard West & Scott Ledger
Fourth official: Tony Harrington
VAR: Paul Tierney
Assistant VAR: Simon Bennett
Written by: @CharleyLongden
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