Norwich City head to Bramall Lane today with a tough looking task ahead of them in the form of Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United.
You will remember that last season, City won this fixture 0-1 with a rare Yanic Wildschut goal. After scoring, it was a back to the wall type of game with the Blades throwing everything, including the kitchen sink at a resilient Norwich, who ran the clock down and got all three points.
Afterwards, Wilder was furious with just about everything including the Norwich coach getting to the ground late and as he saw it, some sharp game management from the men in yellow and green.
That can’t have been the first time that he’s ever experienced an away team doing what they needed to do to win a game, lord knows we’ve seen it often enough at Carrow Road, so I really didn’t see his point.
Anyway, today, as I say, looks to be a very tough task against the always hard working Blades.
Last season, City employed a 4-2-3-1, as they did for much of the season and in particular, Tom Trybull and Alex Tettey were instrumental in that defensively minded Bramall Lane performance.
I’d be surprised if Daniel Farke doesn’t go for a repeat performance, having delivered the positive news that Trybull has recovered from a dead leg that saw him subbed off at half-time against Stevenage, when he spoke to the media on Friday.
There was bad news though, in that Kenny McLean will be out for three weeks with ankle ligament trouble and that Ivo Pinto and Todd Cantwell are both out with sickness.
That poses a problem in terms of going forward because I think that McLean would’ve played and he looks like he’ll be a big part of our season when he gets back fit again.
With Ivo Pinto out with a sickness bug and James Husband simply out of form, there is a decision for Farke at left back. He will probably plump for Marco Stiepermann but Max Aarons did himself no harm against Stevenage and looks likely to be a regular member of the squad this season.
That’s good news and I would play young Max, if I was Daniel Farke. I know he’s right-sided but he is a defender by trade and with Jamal Lewis not fully match fit, I’d give him a go.
Jordan Rhodes is certain to be the lone striker, assuming Farke does what I think he will and Teemu Pukki is proving too valuable to not play as well, along with Onel Hernandez.
There needs to be some midfield creativity though, so I would play Mo Leitner as well. For me, his technique and always wanting the ball is valuable and as he showed with Stiepermann’s assist last Tuesday night, he can put the ball on a sixpence when it’s needed.
Farke needs to work out where his best position is though because I don’t think we’re seeing the best of him yet.
This is going to be very hard, against a motivated, hard working Blades’ side with a gritty manager who asks for no quarter and certainly won’t give one.
Daniel Farke has spoken about defending recently and City need to get back into that groove of keeping clean sheets, having conceded 6 in three games so far. I think that’s how he will probably set Norwich up to play. Looking to keep it tight and then see if the likes of Hernandez and Pukki can unlock the door.
If Farke can get that right then I’m not expecting so many goals this week. However, it’s totally unpredictable at the moment.
You just don’t know what’s going to happen. Will it be the Norwich of the first halves at Brum and against West Brom? Or will it be the second half against the Baggies?
As Reeves and Mortimer used to say “We just don’t know…”