The FourFourTwo Preview: Norwich vs West Ham

Premier League | Carrow Road | Sat 9 Nov | 5:30pm

Billed as

A meeting of Goalphobes Anonymous: the team with no strikers visit the team with no strikers who can score.

The lowdown

It can't be easy being Chris Hughton. Sacked by Newcastle despite a 55% win record with the Toon 11th in the top flight, he's now under pressure at Norwich, whom he last season led to their highest finish in 20 years.

NORWICH FORM

  • Man City 7-0 Norwich (Prem)
  • Man Utd 4-0 Norwich (LC)
  • Norwich 0-0 Cardiff (Prem)
  • Arsenal 4-1 Norwich (Prem)
  • Norwich 1-3 Chelsea (Prem)

WEST HAM FORM

  • West Ham 0-0 Villa (Prem)
  • Burnley 0-2 West Ham (LC)
  • Swansea 0-0 West Ham (Prem)
  • West Ham 1-3 Man City (Prem)
  • Spurs 0-3 West Ham (Prem)

Hughton's problem is age-old: misfiring strikers and a leaky defence. No Premier League team has scored fewer goals, and only fellow drop-zone denizens Sunderland and Palace have conceded more. The goals-against column received an unrepresentative input in last week's 7-0 shellacking at Manchester City, but the sharp-end malady is chronic.

The Canaries have failed to score in half of their 10 league games, despite spending something like £15m on strikers Gary Hooper (no goals in five league appearances), Johan Elmander (none in seven) and Ricky van Wolfswinkel (one in eight – on the opening day). 
 
Moreover, they've only got one point from those five games in which they failed to score - unlike Saturday's visitors, who have at least turned four of their six blanks into point-reaping 0-0 draws. 
 
The omens aren't good for Hughton. Norwich haven't beaten West Ham since a Mark Robins winner in August 1994, and the Hammers haven't lost in their three Carrow Road visits since. Nor have they done much losing on the road this season, or even losing goals: only Robbie Brady's controversial spot-kick at Hull has got past their rearguard.
 
The flipside to that is that the Hammers have only scored on one road trip - that statistical outlier of a 3-0 win at White Hart Lane - as they have struggled to find a cutting edge, or indeed any striker to provide it. That might prove less of a hindrance in away games: Sam Allardyce will be aware of the pressure Hughton is under and would be happy to get to half-time with the score blank and the homers frustrated. 

Team news

Hughton will hope to welcome back Van Wolfswinkel (thigh) and Robert Snodgrass (concussion), while promising winger Nathan Redmond should shake off a foot niggle. West Ham may be able to call on George McCartney (knee), but will also have the option of throwing on a Cole or two – Joe and Carlton. 

Player to watch: Nathan Redmond (Norwich)

If your strikers won't score, look elsewhere. The only Canary to score a league winner at Carrow Road this season has been sidelined – recently by a sore foot, previously by a preference for Anthony Pilkington out wide. Despite not starting a game since September's defeat to Aston Villa, the teenage winger is still Norwich's most prolific shooter, with 14 attempts (half of them on target - another club high). He managed three after coming off the bench against Cardiff (two on target - as many as any of his team-mates bar Leroy Fer) and his creativity in a cameo against Chelsea might tempt Hughton to give the England U21 youngster a longer go. 

LAST FIVE MEETINGS

  • W'Ham 2-1 N'wich (Prem, Jan 13) 
  • N'wich 0-0 W'Ham (Prem, Sep 12) 
  • N'wich 1-2 W'Ham (FAC, Jan 06) 
  • W'Ham 1-0 N'wich (FAC, Jan 05) 
  • N'wich 1-1 W'Ham (Div 1, Feb 04)

The managers

These fellow former Newcastle victims have met five times, with Allardyce winning two to Hughton's none. Their first clash, on 10 Nov 2010, brought a Blackburn win on Big Sam's return to Tyneside, only a few days after the Toon's 5-1 derby win had prompted Allardyce to publicly tell Hughton to "stand up for yourself" and demand a long-term contract - but by Christmas both managers had lost their jobs. 

Facts and figures

  • The average time of Norwich's first goal in league games is 57m 24s; the average time of their last goal is 61m 27s. They've not scored before 30 minutes or after 75, and have only scored one first-half goal. 
  • There may be a late goal: Norwich have conceded five in the last 15 minutes (plus injury time), while West Ham have conceded half of their eight goals in the same late time period.
  • Only two of the 20 league goals Norwich have conceded have come from outside the box, and only three have been from set-pieces - compared to five against West Ham. 
  • Norwich have lost only 1 of their 6 Premier League games versus West Ham (W1 D4) and are unbeaten in home meetings (W1 D2).
  • West Ham have conceded only 1 goal in 5 league trips this season.
  • The Hammers' 8 goals conceded makes them the joint-eighth best defence in Europe’s top five leagues.
  • West Ham could become the first team since 2009 to draw three Premier League games in a row 0-0.
  • The Hammers have won only one of their last nine league games (D4 L4).
  • Last weekend's Norwich nightmare at Manchester City was only the 13th time a team had lost a Premier League game by a margin of 7+ goals.
  • Norwich haven't scored more than once in a league game since the opening day 2-2 draw with Everton.
  • Since then the Canaries have scored only 4 goals in 9 league games – none of those by a striker.
  • But Norwich have lost only 3 of their last 14 Premier League home games (W4 D7).
  • Only one of the last 12 teams to concede 7+ goals in a Premier League game has been relegated in that season (Blackburn in 2011-12).
  • Norwich are the league's joint-lowest scorers, with Crystal Palace.
  • The Canaries have drawn the first half in 5 of their last 8 home league matches against bottom-six teams. 
  • Chris Hughton's side have kept 5 clean sheets in their last 10 home games against bottom-half clubs.
  • 9 of West Ham’s previous 11 away matches have had fewer than three goals. 
  • The Hammers have failed to score in 6 of their 10 fixtures; their last two games have ended goalless.

FourFourTwo prediction

Dire first half, in-fighting among home fans, Norwich striker misses second-half sitter, West Ham score around the hour, curtains for the Canaries. 0-1.

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