The FourFourTwo Preview: Norwich vs Crystal Palace
The match that signals the start of a week which will shape the season to come for two Premier League strugglers.
After just 10 matches of this season, Crystal Palace looked doomed. Bottom of the league without a manager or single away point, the Eagles had endured a worse start than even the infamously (and hilariously) woeful Derby County side of 2007/08, who won just 11 points in 38 matches.
- Newcastle 2-1 Norwich (Prem)
- Norwich 3-1 West Ham (Prem)
- Man City 7-0 Norwich (Prem)
- Man Utd 4-0 Norwich (LC)
- Norwich 0-0 Cardiff (Prem)
CRYSTAL PALACE FORM
- Hull 0-1 Palace (Prem)
- Palace 0-0 Everton (Prem)
- WBA 2-0 Palace (Prem)
- Palace 0-2 Arsenal (Prem)
- Palace 1-4 Fulham (Prem)
It was almost conceivable that Palace could endure as humiliating a campaign as those ramshackle Rams, given absolutely nothing was going their way.
But now, all of a sudden, there is real positivity surrounding the South London club. This is as much down to their timely 1-0 win at Hull and their upcoming run of potentially winnable fixtures as it is the arrival of new manager Tony Pulis. If you were a journalist planning to write a piece questioning whether this Palace side could be the worst in Premier League history, you’d be rather miffed.
For the Selhurst Park side, now is certainly a good time to be positive; this next week will be crucial to the Eagles’ season. Saturday’s game at Norwich is followed by home matches against West Ham and Cardiff; should they capitalise on the whole Glad All Over vibe and pick up half-a-dozen or so points in the coming days, then they’ll be well and truly back in the fight.
That would be bad news for Norwich, of course, who could have done with a Derby or two in order to decrease their own chances of slipping beneath the dreaded red line.
Chris Hughton remains under pressure after his side’s 2-1 defeat at Newcastle left the Canaries just two places above the relegation zone, and four points off the bottom. Having spent heavily over the summer, at least by the Carrow Road club’s standards, expectations were surely loftier than once again battling relegation.
It’s often the case that one club benefitting from ‘new manager bounce’ encourages other strugglers to follow suit – all the more reason for Hughton to ensure the ‘Crystal Pulis’ era doesn’t start with a bang. That and the fact they travel to Liverpool in midweek.
Norwich are looking light in midfield, with Anthony Pilkington (hamstring), Robert Snodgrass (knee) and Alex Tettey (ankle) all sidelined. Ricky van Wolfswinkel is also out with a foot injury.
Palace will be without Adlene Guedioura (rib) and the suspended Yannick Bolasie, while Jerome Thomas is a doubt with a groin injury.
Player to watch: Jonny Howson (Norwich)
With Pilkington and Snodgrass sidelined, Norwich may be looking to the 25-year-old Yorkshireman to bring goals from midfield, not least as Gary Hooper is yet to start firing since moving from Celtic over the summer. The former Leeds man is a tidy passer (and Norwich’s most busy at Newcastle last time out), but also capable of testing goalkeepers from the edge of the box and beyond. Palace keeper Julian Speroni should take note.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Palace 0-0 N'wich (C'ship, Jan 11)
- N'wich 1-2 Palace (C'ship, Oct 10)
- Palace 3-1 N'wich (C'ship, Dec 08)
- N'wich 1-2 Palace (C'ship, Nov 08)
- Palace 1-1 N'wich (C'ship, Jan 08)
Hughton’s last tactical battle with Pulis came last April, when Pulis’ Stoke beat Norwich 1-0 thanks to a Charlie Adam goal. The reverse fixture also brought a home win courtesy of a single goal, this time from Canaries midfielder Bradley Johnson.
Their only other meeting was during Hughton’s tenure at Newcastle, when the newly-promoted Magpies were beaten 2-1 on their own patch by a Stoke side who would go on to reach the FA Cup final.
Facts and figures
- Crystal Palace are unbeaten in the last five league meetings with Norwich City (W3 D2 L0), including 2-1 victories in their last two visits to Carrow Road.
More facts at FFT's Norwich vs Crystal Palace Stats Zone page
Tips and trends
- Norwich will be without two important players in Snodgrass and Pilkington. Their loss rate has gone from 33% (8 in 24) with both playing to 50% (13 in 26) otherwise.
- Only Fulham have conceded first in more matches than Norwich this season.
- Five of their last 7 home games against bottom-six sides have been goalless at the break
- Only Sunderland have scored fewer away goals than Palace this season (3).
- They have lost 3 of their last 5 away games by 2 goals.
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A steady, if unspectacular start for Pulis. Not to mention more discomfort for Hughton. 1-1.