Today’s match against Burton Albion is a first visit to the Pirelli Stadium for Norwich City and only the second meeting between the two in the clubs’ history. The previous match ended 3-1 at Carrow Road last year, memorable for Ivo Pinto’s late goal – his first at senior level.
Norwich are chasing the play-off pack and currently sit four points behind sixth placed Sheffield Wednesday, albeit the Owls also have a game in hand. Burton meanwhile sit fourth from bottom, two points ahead of third from bottom, Wigan.
When you consider the budget available to Burton boss, Nigel Clough, that’s no mean feat either.
Both teams have a big reason to want to win this game. Burton are obviously looking to put some space between themselves and the relegation battle, while City need to win to hang onto Sheffield Wednesday’s coat tails.
As we’ve said before, there is little or no margin for error now and wins, no matter how they are achieved, are crucial.
Winger Lloyd Dyer and striker Cauley Woodrow will both be back after missing the defeat at Brighton. On-loan (from Brighton) striker, Chris O’Grady is back in the squad as well after being ineligible against his parent club.
Ben Turner (ankle) and Jackson Irvine (foot) are both nursing knocks but Clough will be hopeful they make it. Defenders John Brayford, Kyle McFadzean and Damien McCrory are all out.
Nelson Oliveira is out for 4-6 weeks with a fractured bone in his foot, which is a huge blow. Steven Naismith (hamstring), Matt Jarvis (hamstring), Youssouf Mulumbu (thigh) and Ivo Pinto (foot) are all out.
The only positive is that James Maddison makes the squad but that good news is dampened by Alex Neil’s assertion that another unnamed couple of players are also carrying knocks and could be touch and go.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Expect the home side to cultivate a siege mentality in their compact stadium and look to play a high pressure physical game. Norwich will have to match that and win their own individual battles all over the pitch. If they can do that then their superior passing and technical ability should win the game.
I say ‘should’ but that’s talking about the game on paper and we’ve seen City fold under physical pressure too many times not to be concerned. Barnsley and Rotherham spring to mind.
Tom Flanagan was sent off when Burton lost 3-1 in the reverse of this fixture – the first ever meeting between the two teams.
Ivo Pinto scored his first ever goal in English football in that reverse fixture – the late third in Norwich’s 3-1 win.
The Canaries are currently on their longest unbeaten run in league football (six games – W4 D2) since April 2015, when they went eight matches in a row without losing.
Burton Albion have currently gone 15 successive league matches without keeping a clean sheet; the longest current run of this kind in the Championship. Let’s hope there isn’t an ‘along came Norwich’ moment.
Norwich have scored a league-high 11 goals in the opening 15 minutes of Championship games this season.