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    Manchester United v Norwich City


    Manchester United welcome Norwich City to Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon, in a match that perhaps possesses more significance and importance than previous recent occasions, with both managers under pressure for different reasons.

    The hosts have an excellent record against their visitors, winning 11 of their previous 14 meetings and United fans would usually expect a comfortable three points. Yet United were stunned at Bournemouth last weekend where they lost 2-1 against Eddie Howe's spirited promoted team. They have not won for three matches, also dropping points against Leicester City and West Ham United. Alex Neil's Norwich City are on an even worse run, winning just one of their previous 11 matches, resulting in the Canaries dropping into the relegation zone for the first time this season last weekend.


    Louis Van Gaal has been under pressure from Man United fans for his style of football, favouring a patient passing game to the traditional dynamic attacking style the United fans are used to seeing at Old Trafford. He finds himself with a small group of strikers that are struggling to have shots, let alone score goals, and a defensive line that has been disrupted by an injury crisis. Despite these perceived problems, United still find themselves fourth in the league and with the most clean sheets in the top flight so far this season.

    Alex Neil also has problems in attack and defence. Strikers Dieumerci Mbokani, Cameron Jerome and Lewis Grabban are all finding goals hard to come by, whilst Kyle Lafferty seems to be completely out of favour, despite his heroics at international level. Whilst United have the most clean sheets in the league, Norwich have the fewest, with just one to their name in a narrow victory against fellow strugglers Swansea City. Alex Neil has tinkered with his team on numerous occasions this season but still cannot find a winning formula, whilst the Norwich fans are leading calls to try two strikers up front and take the game to Manchester United. The Canaries have been guilty of encouraging pressure from the first whistle in recent meetings with Everton and Arsenal and were lucky to come away with a point from both games.


    If Norwich are to take anything away from Old Trafford, they will have to be wary of Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney, who could return from a foot injury, both possessing excellent recent records against the Canaries. Mata has four goals in hist last six appearances against Norwich, whilst Rooney has scored three and assisted three in his last four encounters. The visitors will also be pitting a poor away record of one win in their last 19 Premier League matches on the road against United's home record of ten wins and four draws from their last 15.

    Wayne Rooney is rated as 50-50 for the fixture, whilst Jesse Lingard could also return. Phil Jones, Morgan Schneiderlin and Ashley Young are fit again, but Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia and Ander Herrera are all still injured, with Bastian Schweinsteiger suspended. Norwich will be without Matt Jarvis and Andre Wisdom for the trip to Old Trafford. 

    Both managers will be feeling a sense of pressure going into Saturday's fixture but a defeat for either club could leave Alex Neil or Louis Van Gaal fearing another sack that is not Santa's over the Christmas period.


    Key Players:
    Wayne Rooney- if the striker is fit, United captain Rooney will make his 500th appearance for the club as he continues to chase down Sir Bobby Charlton's goalscoring record.

    Wes Hoolahan- not always a regular this season, the Norwich playmaker is still the most creative force in the Canaries squad with the most assists and a crucial equalising goal against Everton last weekend.

    Chris Lincoln's Prediction: Manchester United 2-0 Norwich City
    Louis Van Gaal has many critics but you cannot fault his team's defensive record at Old Trafford this season and I feel United's attackers will fancy their chances to get back on the scoresheet against a weak Norwich defence.
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    Item Reviewed: Manchester United v Norwich City Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Chris Lincoln
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