Manchester United v Norwich City – Match Preview

Premier League leaders Manchester United host newly promoted Norwich City at Old Trafford on Saturday intent on getting back to winning ways after dropping their first points of the season last week.

The Red Devil’s storming start to the season came to an abrupt halt as they failed make it six consecutive wins at Stoke City last week with Peter Crouch’s second half header securing a 1-1 draw for the Potters. As invincible as United looked in the opening weeks of the campaign they now look decidedly vulnerable after stuttering to a 3-3 draw in the Champions League against Basle with Ashley Young saving their blushes with a late header. They have been hindered by the absence of Wayne Rooney who missed both games although Sir Alex Ferguson will hate to rely solely on the England man to inspire his side. Defensively they were poor on Tuesday with Phil Jones and Rio Ferdinand struggling to operate in tandem although it’s likely they’ll be paired together again on Saturday with Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling injured along with Tom Cleverley. Danny Welbeck could be given another chance up front after he scored twice against the Swiss side keeping out Javier Hernandez who was forced off at Stoke last week after a class with Asmir Begovic. Jonny Evans should also return to the side and provide backup to Ferdinand and Jones from the bench.

A few weeks ago many people will have written off the Canaries but after two wins on the bounce they go into the game against Ferguson’s side booming with confidence. It’s been a promising few weeks with back-to-back victories over Bolton and Norwich seeing some self belief start to creep into the players at Carrow Road. Paul Lambert has moulded his side into one capable of coping with Premier League life and their performance on Monday against the Black Cats was an accomplished one. The former Colchester boss has proved himself to be a shrewd operator in the transfer market with lower league signings Elliott Bennet, Marc Tierney and Anthony Pilkington excelling in the top flight so far this season. Taking maximum points at Old Trafford could be a task too far for Lamberts’ side with United unbeaten in 36 games at home. He suffered a blow in mid-week with the news James Vaughan will be out for four months joining Zak Whitbread, Elliott Ward and Dani Ayala on the sidelines. Lambert will also have to do without Ritchie De Laet who is unable to play against his parent club.

Key Players

Ashley Young – After scoring his first Champions League goal against Basel on Tuesday the winger will be hungry to inflict some pain on Norwich this weekend. He’ll be tasked by Ferguson with providing Rooney with the bullets and also getting in some shots of his own.

Bradley Johnson – Since signing from Leeds in the summer Johnson has been a real presence in the Canaries midfield with his energy making him a fans favourite already. Scored his first goal for the club at Bolton two weeks ago and will relish the opportunity to play at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Verdict: 3-0

  • Ashley Young is currently third in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, behind only his teammate Wayne Rooney and Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero
  • Young has also completed the most dribbles (30) of all players in the Barclays Premier League this season, one completed dribble ahead of his teammate Nani.
  • Bradley Johnson had an average speed while the ball was in play against Sunderland of 6.64MPH. This was over 1MPH more than any other Norwich City player during the game.
  • The Norwich City players covered a total of 125,306m (77.86miles) in Monday night’s 2-1 win against Sunderland

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