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    Norwich City v Southampton: New Year, New Start for Neil and Norwich

    A revitalised Norwich City kick off 2016 against an inconsistent Southampton at Carrow Road on Saturday. The Canaries will look to build upon a good recent run of form and have a flying start to 2016, just as they did in 2015.

    Norwich were looking like one of the favourites to be relegated just a few weeks ago, but a change in desire and passion attributing to a fiery half-time team talk by manager Alex Neil at Everton could have turned their season around. The Canaries picked up a point in that fixture, before beating Manchester United and overturning Aston Villa in a crucial bottom of the table clash, with a defeat to Tottenham Hotspur sandwiched in between. Norwich have freshened things up off the field, with former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls taking over as Chairman. The East Anglia club also look set to be busy in the transfer window, with Steven Naismith looking to be on his way from Everton for £8 million, the services of Matt Jarvis sealed permanently and rumours of several further signings set to bolster Norwich's survival hopes.

    Southampton are currently experiencing a sense of deja vu. After an excellent start to the season, the Saints are beginning to drop off the pace, just as they did in the 2014/15 campaign. Ronald Koeman's men have lost five out of their last seven, but were excellent on Boxing Day when they hammered Arsenal 4-0. They comfortably took Norwich apart earlier in the season with a 3-0 victory but will have to be at their best if they are to pick up a similar result on Saturday. 

    The hosts have produced as many victories in their last three fixtures as they did in their previous 14 league games. Alex Neil has strengthened his defence somewhat with Declan Rudd grasping his opportunity in goal with both hands. The clean sheet against Aston Villa was only their second of the campaign, but Norwich have only conceded three goals in their last five outings at Carrow Road.

    Southampton have struggled for results and goals on the road. With just 12 goals and 11 points from their last 16 league games away from home, the Saints will have to work hard to break down a rejuvenated Norwich defence. They will take faith from the fact that Norwich have only beaten them once in the previous ten meetings, winning four during that period.

    The hosts are still without Matt Jarvis who continues his recovery from a knee injury. Southampton travel to Carrow Road without Graziano Pelle and Cedric, whilst Oriel Romeu serves a one match suspension.

    Key Players:
    Declan Rudd- the young Norwich goalkeeper has conceded just seven goals in his five Premier League appearances, saving 72% of shots in the process. 

    Shane Long- after scoring two goals last week against Arsenal, the Southampton striker will be confident, particularly as he has an excellent record against Norwich with six goals in his last nine league matches against the Canaries.

    Chris Lincoln's Prediction: Norwich City 1-1 Southampton
    Alex Neil believes his side are not at their best just yet and the game could go either way depending on what Southampton side turn up. With Norwich full of confidence and Southampton hit or miss, I am going to play it safe with a score draw.
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    Item Reviewed: Norwich City v Southampton: New Year, New Start for Neil and Norwich Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Chris Lincoln
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