Inside the Opposition: Norwich City FC

City go to Norwich for the early kick off tomorrow and it’s an important game for both teams. Alex Neil’s team have gone from a fairly ok looking position to staring relegation in the face. Pellegrini’s men have just been rubbish for ages and now need to get this top 4 position wrapped up ASAP.

To get some more information on where Norwich are currently at we turned to Dan Brigham from The Little Yellow Bird Project once again. Much like Typical City, they are a reader funded outfit who have spurned gambling money which is great to see.

Hi Dan, thanks for coming on! Norwich’s season has stalled and relegation is looking like a distinct possibility. Is that a fair assessment? What has gone wrong? After this weekend you have what looks like a decisive run of games: West Brom, Newcastle, Crystal Palace and then Sunderland. Can you survive?

Yep, that’s a fair assessment. When we last spoke ahead of our FA Cup tie, we’d just come off the back of three wins in four matches. Things were looking rosy, with the sweet smell of mid-table safety beckoning us.

Since then, well, it’s gone to shit. We haven’t won a match since then, with your FA Cup win kicking off our worse 9-game run in the league since 1946 (1 point in 27, if you have to ask).

Hard to pinpoint exactly what’s gone wrong. It’s a combination of things: Alex Neil losing faith in his instincts, the players just being not good enough in key areas of the pitch, losing to the big teams despite playing out of our skins but then playing very much within our skins against teams around us and losing.

Somehow, though, due to the ineptitude of Newcastle and Sunderland, we’re only 1 point off safety with 9 games to go. So we can turn things around… it’s just that, right now, it feels like an impossible task. A shock win on Saturday would be handy….

Midfielder Alex Tettey has picked up a pretty bad ankle injury and needs surgery. How big a loss is he for Norwich? Who’s the replacement?

He’s a big loss. While not the best on the ball, he’s got bags of energy and has been reliable for us in the holding midfielder role. It’s likely that Gary O’Neil will fill in for him. He’s steady but, well, shouldn’t really be playing Premier League football still. Mulumbu, who we signed in the summer to play that shielding role, has been crap. So you may get a bit of joy through the middle.

I have previously expressed to you how much I like the look of Nathan Redmond. How has he been over the whole season? Will he be going down with you or should I expect to see him in the Premier League next season?

His performance on Saturday at Swansea just about summed him up. Was a constant threat but his ill-discipline at tracking back cost us the only goal of the game. His form dipped a lot over Christmas, and he looked short of confidence. He was rightly dropped but recently Neil has brought him back and has clearly just given him a brief to attack, and he was our best player against Chelsea.

Like most English wingers he remains, for the most parts frustrating rather than exciting. If he learns to play more centrally, like Sterling, then he could one day fulfil his potential. Until then his level is probably a lower-table Premier League club.

Steven Naismith looked an odd signing (especially for that much money!) A worthwhile gamble or just a classic panicked January buy?

I thought it was an odd signing, although lots of Norwich fans thought he was going to be the messiah. I’m not quite sure what that was based on, though (I suspect just his hattrick against Chelsea). His signing did make sense on some levels though: we needed a leader at the top end of the pitch, and he usually provides that. His movement is also generally excellent, and his finishing is decent. But his touch and passing are poor – but we’d seen that at Everton, which made the fuss around him even more bizarre.

He’s had one good game – his debut against Liverpool – but it’s been a collection of meh and ugh performances since then.

Predicted score and line up? Can Norwich spring a surprise and get three points?

Norwich can spring a surprise and get three points because, as we know, this is The Season Of Batshit Craziness. I’m also hoping you lot rest a few players ahead of your Champions League match. But, ultimately, I think it’s going to be another agonising loss against a big side. Let’s say 2-1 to you.

I’ve got the last two line-ups spectacularly wrong, but I suspect we’ll see the same system we employed at your place: wing-backs. We’ve got quite a few fitness doubts (including Robbie Brady, which would be a big loss) but, assuming everyone’s fit, I imagine it’ll be a 3-4-3, with Patrick Bamford getting his first start ahead of Cameron Jerome.

Ruddy; Bassong, Martin, Klose; Brady, Howson, O’Neil, Pinto; Hoolahan, Bamford, Redmond

Thanks again for coming on, Dan! Good luck for the weekend…

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Interview by Alex Timperley

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