Norwich City vs. Manchester United Preview

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PREVIEW: Norwich City vs. Manchester United

Kick Off – 5:30pm Saturday 27th June 2020

Competition – FA Cup

Venue – Carrow Road

Channel – BBC ONE

 

Premier League Form

Norwich City: L-W-L-L-L

Manchester United: W-D-W-D-W

 

FA Cup Journey

Norwich City

Preston North End 2-4 Norwich City

Burnley 1-2 Norwich City

Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Norwich City (p)

 

Manchester United

Manchester United 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers (Replay)

Tranmere Rovers 0-6 Manchester United

Derby County 0-3 Manchester United

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United are staring at a golden ticket in the form of the FA Cup. A trophy that would deem Solskjaer first full season in charge of ‘The Red Devils’ a success. The Norwegian believes winning the “fantastic” FA Cup would be a “catalyst for success” during his reign at United. Ole is a two-time FA Cup winner as a player and that experience has him hungry to win it as a manager and what better way to do it than with the club that got him to the dance.

 

United’s next roadblock on the path to glory is Premier League strugglers Norwich City who currently sit bottom on the topflight. This is a game that United are expected to win so there is a modicum of pressure around Solskjaer’s team. So, can United avoid a FA Cup banana skin and breeze past ‘The Canaries” to advance to the Semi Finals?

 

Last Meeting

The last meeting between Champions League chasers Man United and relegation fighters Norwich was a landslide for the former. The match, that took place at Old Trafford, was won 4-0 by the hosts with United’s front three all shining.

 

Marcus Rashford scored twice, including a spot kick, Anthony Martial netted, as did Mason Greenwood. This was one of the first times United truly showed the quality they have up top which was even more impressive considering this was on the 11th January which meant it was pre-Bruno Fernandes, what a sad time that was.

 

This match may also be without Bruno Fernandes as Solskjaer has rightly teased a shakeup of the team. So, who should start for the ‘The Red Devils’ away at Norwich on the Road to Wembley?

 

The Team

Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that Champions League qualification is the main aim for United so expect some changes to the line-up. However, the FA Cup is still a cup United need to win so a full rotation is unlikely from the Norwegian legend.

 

Formation

A traditional 4-3-3 is probably the best way forward for United against Norwich which will counter Norwich’s probable 4-3-3 formation themselves. This way United can cover all areas of the pitch and allow many unused players since the restart to feature in roles they are comfortable with.

 

VERDICT: 4-3-3

 

Goalkeeper

This may be an easy one but now is a perfect time to rework Sergio Romero back into the team. After De Gea’s inconsistent displays in the net pre and post lockdown, Romero has been in the conversation to take over goalkeeping duties in the league. I for one disagree with that and feel De Gea is still good enough to be number 1 at least for the remainder of the season.

 

However, I believe Sergio Romero is the best second choice keeper in the league and is ever reliable when called upon for cup and Europa matches so that is why I’m giving the nod to the Argentine. This will also give De Gea a much-needed break from first team action, excluding the three-month break everyone just had.

 

VERDICT: Sergio Romero

 

Defence

Starting with right back, I want to see a start for the underrated Portuguese talent Diogo Dalot. He is a fantastic second choice option at right back and when AWB either needs rest or can’t play for whatever reason, I’m sure many United fans will feel comfortable having Dalot fill in for the Spider.

 

If you visit the site regularly you will know my love for Eric Bailly and having not started either of Man Utd’s restart games, that must change for the Norwich game. I truly believe if it wasn’t for injuries, Bailly would be one of the best defenders in England, so for me it’s a must that he starts in the FA Cup game, just to try and give Eric more match fitness maybe for regular starts in the league and maybe even the reworked Europa in August.

 

For Bailly’s partnership, that should be Harry Maguire. Maguire has had a ropey start back playing with a costly mistake against Tottenham and an average performance against Sheffield United. However, Norwich may go full strength in order to win a cup in their disappointing season so that means Finish international Teemu Pukki would start. I reckon a fit Maguire would be able to contain Pukki along with Bailly and help build up that partnership we may see more regularly in the United setup.

 

Finally, Luke Shaw has started both games since the restart leaving out Brandon Williams. The young Englishman hasn’t even featured off the bench which would mean he is lacking match sharpness. However, if Shaw is going to be the first choice for the rest of the season, Williams needs games like this to help continue his progression as a top left back. That’s why I’d start Williams at full back so he can counter act the likes of Emiliano Buendia and Todd Cantwell.

 

VERDICT: Diogo Dalot, Eric Bailly, Harry Maguire, Brandon Williams

 

Midfield

With a midfield three, the options United have are endless. Trying to get the balance between strength and rotational is key for United not just in this match but in the long term. The first midfielder and the more defensive of the three will be Scott Mctominay. After being benched against Sheffield United, Mctominay is ready to go and is a top-quality midfielder to act as that defensive anchor the midfield will need against an up for it Norwich side.

 

The next midfielder in this cup equation is Mctominay’s usual partner, Fred. The Brazilian will play a more advanced role thanks to Mctominay and can help get forward and create further chances for United. A no brainer considering his few minutes he had against ‘The Blades’.

 

The final part in this midfield jigsaw for me is Jesse Lingard. Stay with me on this one. One of the only things Jesse can offer United is energy which is crucial in a cup game against a team like Norwich who will view this competition as a saving grace more than anything. Ole has hinted that Jesse is ready to go, and I believe him. Lingard’s minimal impact could be enough to tip the midfield balance in the favour of United. Who knows, lockdown may have turned Lingard into a prime Lionel Messi.

 

VERDICT: Scott Mctominay, Fred, Jesse Lingard

 

Attack

Another part of the United team with many options, United have an array of talent to pick from so who gets the green light to take on the yellow of Norwich? First is the right winger and that spot belongs to Dan James. His performance at Tottenham wasn’t exactly a world beater hence why he was dropped for Sheffield however a cup game against the team currently occupying the bottom spot in the Premier League, Norwich, is a match James can perform for. His pace will cause problems for the back line but as a recommendation, don’t let him run with the ball for too long.

 

The left side is an interesting one but I’m giving it to Marcus Rashford. You could clearly see a lack of match sharpness from the Englishman against Sheffield when if front of goal but I’m not advocating a Rashford start because of goals, I’m advocating a Rashford start because of assists. Two of Martial’s three on Wednesday where setup by Rashford and the connection between them was unstoppable. The partnership is slowly beginning to click which is perfect timing considering the importance of games coming up. Rashford starts for me to help him come to more match fitness as well as an opportunity to create further chances for the man up top which is……..

 

Anthony Martial. Who else? The most logically man would be Ighalo, but he was brought in as an option off the bench and despite proving his wage worth over the past several games, why would you stop the wave of momentum Martial is riding. Coming off the first hattrick post-Fergie, Tony will be confident to grab another few against a far from solid Norwich side. I don’t see this as a chance to rest Martial, I see it as a chance to continue his form and further enhance his match sharpness. At the end of the day, Odion Ighalo won’t be the man to lead the line for the Champions League race so playing Martial will help him continue the momentum he needs during this tense period.

 

VERDICT: Daniel James, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial

 

Bench

No really reasoning behind the bench choices other than United need the mix between strength and rotational. Just in case the game is closer than we expect, United require talent on the bench in order to come on and change the game.

 

Axel Tuanzebe would make the bench as would Phil Jones if they were full fit and injury free however they miss out all together due to their respective knocks.

 

VERDICT: Lee Grant, Aaron Wan Bissaka, Luke Shaw, Bruno Fernandes, Andreas Pereira, Juan Mata, Mason Greenwood, Odion Ighalo

 

Norwich News

Norwich are without trio Grant Hanley, Sam Byram and Christoph Zimmermann after injuries have ruled all three out for the remainder of the season.

 

Josip Drmic is a doubt for the tie too after picking up a slight knock in the dying embers of their loss to Everton. Drmic has been a key part of City’s restart so will be a dealt a big blow if Drmic is not given the green light for this encounter.

 

Norwich’s three main men, Todd Cantwell, Emiliano Buendia and Teemu Pukki, are all fit and good to go which may cause United a few problems in the defensive area of the pitch.

 

Prediction

If United go with the team outlined above, I can’t see anything other than a comfortable United win. I don’t think ‘The Red Devils’ will bowl over Norwich but a big statement to the other clubs still in the cup is something Ole will be looking for so with that being said I’m going for a 3-0 Man United victory. In terms of the goals, I fancy Anthony Martial to continue his momentum from Sheffield with a goal, Rashford to get one to boost his confidence in front of goal and youngster Mason Greenwood to grab one late on off the bench.

 

Verdict: Norwich City 0-3 Manchester United

 

How do you see this match going? Leave in the comments below.

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