With one eye on the Champions League clash with Real Madrid on Wednesday it’s difficult to determine which lineup Sir Alex Ferguson will field for the visit of Norwich. Keeping his squad fresh and free from injury will be high on Ferguson’s agenda without compromising the strength of his side having lost to Canaries at Carrow Road in November and won’t underestimate Chris Hughton’s side. Ryan Giggs is expected to make his 1,000th competitive appearance having just signed a one-year extension to his contract that will keep him at Old Trafford beyond his 40th birthday. His experience will be crucial in sustaining the 12-point lead established over rivals Manchester City at the top of the Premier League and executing Ferguson’s plan of killing the game off in the first half to allow for key players to be rested.
That will be something Norwich hope to avoid as they look to build upon the late win at home to Everton; their first since mid-December. Hughton’s men are slowly coming back into form having embarked on a 10 match unbeaten run before Christmas and are unbeaten in their last four but know they need to mimic the performance that sealed a surprise win over United. New signing Kei Kamara could start his first game for the club having come off the bench to equalise last week although its possible Hughton will opt for a more conservative approach in an attempt to frustrate the league leaders.
Robin Van Persie is available despite suffering a bizarre hip injury at QPR last week. Paul Scholes (knee) is out while Phil Jones isn’t fit enough to return.
Norwich are without Alex Tettey (knee) but could hand a first start to new signing Kei Kamara.
What the managers said…
“In 1999 I left Paul Scholes out of the quarter-final against Inter Milan yet he was the one who scored the goal that got us through. I left him out of the semi-final because I couldn’t risk him and Roy Keane together as they were both on yellow cards. He accepted it graciously, came on, got booked and missed the final anyway. What did he do? He didn’t let it affect him. He went on to become one of the greatest players this club has ever had. The players sense it could be a big year for them. But at this club, in this situation, anything can happen on the run-in. Players can all of a sudden find themselves playing in a final or an important league game because that is the kind of squad I have.” Sir Alex Ferguson assured his squad they all have a part to play in a ‘big year’ for the club (MEN)
“It is a massive game they have on Tuesday. I think it will affect the line-up, but I don’t think it will affect the quality of the line-up. Irrespective of the team they put out, we know it is going to be one of high quality. At this moment they are the team who have the best quality squad in the division, there is no doubt about that. There is nobody who manoeuvres his squad any better than Sir Alex. United have only lost one game at home this season so the magnitude of the task is still there, but we are certainly better going into it for the result of last weekend. Beating United at home was one of our best performances of the season, and it had to be because that is the only way you can beat a Manchester United team.” Chris Hughton admits the size of Norwich’s task remains the same regardless of the lineup fielded by Manchester United (Norwich Evening News)
Pre-Match Statistic: Norwich have never tasted victory at Old Trafford in the Premier League era and last beat Manchester United on their own turf in August 1989.
Prediction: Manchester United 4-0 Norwich City