Preview: Manchester United vs. Norwich City

Preview: Manchester United vs. Norwich City

Manchester United will be bidding to return to winning ways in the Premier League when they welcome basement side Norwich City to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.

The Red Devils are currently seventh in the table, six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, while Norwich sit bottom, seven points behind 17th-placed Everton, who have a game in hand

Man United’s hopes of claiming a top-four finish in the Premier League this season suffered a huge blow last weekend when they lost 1-0 at struggling Everton, with the result leaving them in seventh spot in the division, six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham on the same number of matches (31).

Ralf Rangnick’s side will also need to finish above Arsenal and West Ham United if they are to claim a top-four position, while they are only two points clear of eighth-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers, so it is not impossible to imagine them missing out on European football altogether for next season.

Erik ten Hag is expected to soon be announced as the team’s new head coach, but Rangnick has an important job to do between now and the end of the campaign, and it would be a disaster for the 20-time English champions if they were unable to return to winning ways against the team bottom of the league.

Man United will take on Liverpool, Arsenal, Brentford, Brighton & Hove Albion, Chelsea and Crystal Palace in their final six matches of the season, and a win on Saturday could act as a springboard for the rest of the campaign, but they have dropped points in half of their 16 league matches at Old Trafford this term.

The Red Devils have won their last five matches against Norwich in all competitions, including a 1-0 success at Carrow Road earlier this season, with a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty deciding what was a close match, while they beat the Canaries 4-0 at Old Trafford in January 2020.

Norwich, as mentioned, are bottom of the division on 21 points, but they have crucially not been cut adrift at this stage of the campaign and can still make a fight of avoiding relegation back to the Championship.

Dean Smith’s side recorded a huge 2-0 win over Burnley last weekend to make it four points from their last two Premier League matches, but they are still seven points behind 17th-placed Everton, who have a game in hand, so it is going to take something special to escape the relegation zone.

Finding the back of the net has been a real problem for the Canaries this term, having struck just 20 times in their 31 Premier League matches, with nine of those coming from Teemu Pukki, who has once again been relied on too heavily to contribute goals during the 2021-22 campaign.

Norwich have a huge game at home to Newcastle United next weekend, while they will also take on Aston Villa, West Ham, Leicester City, Wolves and Tottenham before the end of the season, and there will have to be a lot of victories in there to stand a chance of remaining in the top flight.

Smith’s team have the second-worst away record in the Premier League this season, picking up just nine points from their 15 matches on their travels, but Man United’s recent performances have largely been poor, and the visitors can take encouragement from the struggles of their opponent this weekend.

Manchester United Premier League form:
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Manchester United form (all competitions):
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Norwich City Premier League form:
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We say: Manchester United 2-0 Norwich City
Man United do not often keep clean sheets, but Norwich have struggled for goals this season, and we can see the Red Devils producing a rare shutout in this match; Rangnick’s side should then have enough quality down the other end of the field to score a couple to collect a hugely important three points.

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