The Leicester v Norwich match on Saturday is arguably the most important of all the weekend’s fixtures for obvious reasons at both ends of the table.
The home side will be desperate to get the win after narrowly losing at Arsenal while the visitors face Leicester and then Chelsea in quick succession – two daunting games that they surely have to get something from at least one of.
The most important side of the pitch for Norwich and where the home side could be most vulnerable is the left and the players there could be key in deciding the game’s outcome.
Just over three quarters (77%) of Norwich’s attacks come down their left side, which is the second most in the league behind Crystal Palace. Since Steven Naismith’s arrival the focus on the left has increased even more with the left footed attacker often straying wide left.
Naismith started the last game on the left wing and could do the same against Leicester.
In his four games for Norwich, since the Scotsman joined in January, Wes Hoolahan has scored twice and made one assist. Robbie Brady seems preferred at left back, which says a lot about Martin Olsson and he did well there for most of the game against West Ham, getting forward and scoring an excellent goal.
This left footed trio have been getting some joy and have helped increase the number of crosses into the opposition box. Just over half (55%) of Norwich’s goals have come from crosses this term.
This could be a big problem for The Foxes as the last five goals they have conceded have all come from crosses into the box. Danny Simpson getting sent off at Arsenal means he is suspended for the Norwich game, which means to my mind that they will be more vulnerable as a result.
Martin Wasilewski is a strong but slow centre back who may be given the gig but he would be likely to struggle against Brady, Naismith and Hoolahan. Perhaps a more likely option would be for Claudio Ranieri to give a debut to £6m January signing, Daniel Amartey. The 21yr old Ghanaian has yet to play for his new club in the first team but when asked on Thursday if Amartey was ready for the Norwich game, Ranieri said: ‘I think so.’
‘He played against Manchester City in the under 21s, he played ninety minutes. he is ready.’
Whoever Ranieri decides to play there, N’Golo Kante will be vital to the system as he regularly covers for Riyad Mahrez when he flies forwards, to help give cover to the right full back.
Another option on the left for Alex Neil would be Matt Jarvis, who is a quick, direct winger – a player who performed very well early in the season with Brady behind him.
If I can pick up this with my meagre ability to track down stats, then you can be sure that Alex Neil knows it too. Watch out for a left sided bias for attacks on Saturday.