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    Stoke City v Norwich City: Can The Canaries Do It On A Cold Winter Night In Stoke?


    Stoke City host Norwich City on Wednesday evening in a tie between two teams who had differing fortunes in the FA Cup last weekend. Both sides made numerous changes as the Potters defeated Doncaster Rovers, whilst the Canaries were dumped out by Manchester City.

    Mark Hughes' 'Stokalona' have played an exciting brand of football not usually associated with the club who play at the Britannia Stadium. The attacking trio of Marko Arnautovic, Bojan and Xherdan Shaqiri have looked almost unplayable at times, helping their team to home victories against the two Manchester clubs last month. Hughes will be hoping his team can add some consistency to their results and performances, as excellent victories against City, United and Everton have been overshadowed by defeats to Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion in their last six matches.


    Norwich have picked up some form of their own with three league victories in their last four fixtures, in contrast to just the two wins in their previous 23 Premier League outings. The Canaries will be delighted with the progress of Declan Rudd who has gone over three hours without conceding, after Norwich only kept one clean sheet in their first 18 league fixtures of the season. Alex Neil certainly did not hide the fact that Premier League survival took priority over the FA Cup, but even he will be concerned at how mediocre his side looked when Manchester City cruised to a 3-0 victory on Saturday. With snow forecast for Thursday, Norwich fans will be hoping their side don't freeze again this week.

    Stoke have certainly had the measure of their opponents in recent years. They held Norwich to a 1-1 draw back in August, when Shaqiri made his debut at Carrow Road, whilst the Canaries have only recorded one victory in their last nine visits to the Britannia Stadium, losing six of those encounters. The fixture is not renowned for goals, with just eleven in the last eight Premier League meetings, and you would not bet against a similar outcome on Wednesday with both goalkeepers in top form. Declan Rudd will be looking to keep a third consecutive clean sheet, whilst Jack Butland has made the most saves this season with 77 and holds the highest save percentage at 78.6%.


    10th place Stoke are likely to revert back to a more familiar line-up after Mark Hughes made nine changes for the trip to Doncaster Rovers. Geoff Cameron, Phil Bardsley and Stephen Ireland all face late fitness tests, whilst Shay Given is definitely still unavailable. Norwich have been relatively lucky in their trip to 15th at the midway point in the season and should welcome back Matt Jarvis to the squad on Wednesday. 

    Key Players:
    Marko Arnautovic- the attacking midfielder always looks dangerous and has shown in recent weeks that he is not afraid to track back and help his defence too. The Austrian already has seven Premier League goals this season from just eleven on target. 

    Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe- the Belgian midfielder has looked promising in recent weeks. He changed the game in Norwich's favour when he came on against Southampton and was the only bright spark in heavy defeats to Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City. 

    Chris Lincoln's Prediction: Stoke City 1-0 Norwich City
    Mark Hughes has made his team a force to be reckoned with at the Britannia Stadium and with no Norwich player scoring more than four goals this season, the visitors will find it difficult to find a way past Butland. 

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    Item Reviewed: Stoke City v Norwich City: Can The Canaries Do It On A Cold Winter Night In Stoke? Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Chris Lincoln
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