Hard to believe that when Norwich beat Swansea in a seven goal thriller at the Liberty Stadium in November they were in the midst of a 10 game unbeaten run and daring to dream of European qualification. But the reality for Chris Hughton’s beleaguered troops is they’ve won just twice since that visit to South Wales. Now they’re just four points above the Premier League drop zone and licking wounds salted by the loss at Wigan last week. Performance wise Hughton can have no gripes but their inability to convert chances into goals and losing their defensive concentration late in the game is what is keeping them in the frame for relegation.
Swansea, on the other hand, are more than assured of a third consecutive term in the top-flight but have suffered an alarming drop in standards since their Capital One Cup triumph in late February. Part of the Swans problem is they were playing without a fixed objective since their Wembley triumph that also secured a spot in next seasons Europa League. Manager Michael Laudrup has quickly remedied that by challenge his players to hit or surpass the 50-point mark in their seven remaining games. They are currently 10 points shy of that total and a much required victory over Norwich would push them closer to achieving it and end a run of three straight defeats.
Norwich have goalkeeper Mark Bunn available after he served a one-mach suspension. Fellow shot stopper John Ruddy is also closing in on a return from a thigh injury. Alexander Tettey (knee) should be fit enough to play but Anthony Pilkington (hamstring) remains out.
Chico Flores and Angel Rangel are back for Swansea after recovering from ankle and calf problems respectively. Kemy Agustien is back in training following a thigh injury while long-term injury victim Neil Taylor is also closing in on a return.
What the managers said…
“I think so. It doesn’t mean a bad result in any of those games is the end of the world. You have to go again, just as you can’t sit on a good result, you have to get another after that. It will not be determined by one game but we have got ourselves into a position where it is in our own hands and the spirit is good. We have to accept where we are as a club. Look around us and teams that have got less points than us or fractionally more than us are clubs which have been in this division for more years than we have of late and have more experience and bigger budgets. We could take strength from that.” Chris Hughton is adamant Norwich will be a Premier League club next season (Daily Mail)
“We know what to expect and that is a very direct approach from Norwich. They are in a very difficult moment because they have not been on a good run and they need six or seven points to go 100 per cent clear of the bottom three. They will be hard and they will be physical. I don’t know how good the pitch will be and I think we have to be prepared for a lot of direct play. I was surprised to see that Norwich are the team who have scored the most set-pieces in the league, more than Stoke, Everton and West Ham. We have conceded more goals than most teams at set-pieces, and I am sure Norwich will see that and think they have to get a lot of set-pieces. We have to try not to concede corners and free-kicks. Of course there will be some — you cannot avoid that — but we have to make sure we don’t give stupid fouls away, especially out wide and just outside the box.” Michael Laudrup has told his Swansea side to prepare for an onslaught on Saturday (This Is South Wales)
Pre-Match Statistic: Swansea have yet to win in the 17 games in which they’ve fallen behind this season, drawing six and losing 11.
Prediction: Norwich City 1-1 Swansea City