|Norwich City 2 v 1 Southampton|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 20th November 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Southampton At Norwich City The Preview
Friday, 19th Nov 2021 11:04
Saints travel to Carrow Road to take on the Canaries who with a new manager in place and buoyed by a first win of the season at Brentford will be hoping to now win in front of their own fans and potentially lift themselves off the bottom of the table.
Two week ago Dean Smith was in Southampton leading his then club Aston Villa at St Mary's and the subsequent 1-0 defeat saw him sacked soon after, ironically the following day, Norwich went to Brentford and won and manager Daniel Farke was sacked, football is a funny game as they say.
Now we meet up again with Dean Smith and both teams will fancy their chances of a win for different reasons, the Canaries because they have a new manager and that elusive win under their belts and Saints because they know a win at Carrow Road could see them end the day in the top 10.
The worry for Saints is that Norwich are on a high, new manager, win under their belts and a crowd behind them who will now have hope and will be loud and boisterous.
But underneath all that it is still the same Norwich City team that lost 8 of it's previous 10 games and was rock bottom ahead of that win against Brentford, yes their will be motivation , but apart from the adrenalin rush, Saints are the better side and a side in form, we have to do what we have done so well for the best part of the season and that is keep it tight at the back and take at least one chance in the game preferably more.
Slowly but surely Ralph Hasenhuttl has learnt from the mistakes of last season and built on the foundations he has laid and now we have a squad that can take a step forward again.
Norwich 's problem this season has been at both ends of the field, that might seem a little obvious given that they are rock bottom, but they are the division's lowest scorers with only 5 goals in 11 games and the worst defence with a whopping 26 conceded, although most of those have been away with only 10 at home.
Dean Smith goes into this game knows he has a hard task ahead and for this game all he has in his favour is that burst of energy that comes from putting a new manager in charge, that can sometimes fire a side up.
We have to make sure it doesn't and from that perspective exploit their enthusiasm and hit them where it hurts, that is what happened on our last visit when it was the first game after the resumption of football, they could have been 2-0 up in the first 10 minutes after some poor defending by us, but they didn't take their chances and we won comfortably.
We have to make sure that we don't let them have any sitters this time and don't give them a chance to get up a head of steam and a lead to protect.
Teemu Pukki is obviously the dangerman, he has scored 3 of their 5 goals and last season he scored 26 of their 59 goals in the Championship, Emiliano Buendia weighed in with 15 , highlighting how much they relied on just two players to get all their goal, ironically it was Dean Smith who bought Buendia in the summer for Aston Villa leaving them very short of firepower after Pukki.
But Ralph Hasenhuttl has to concentrate on the strengths of his own team and on paper we are a far stronger squad, they sold a key player in the summer and have not replaced him, we hshowed last season we had a good starting XI and now we are showing that we have built the squad up.
Ralph goes into this game with a virtual full squad to choose from and more pleasingly players chomping at the bit to get in the starting line up, last season too often we had kids on the bench, this season is different.
I don't expect a much different side than the one that Dean Smith saw cost him his job a fortnight ago, that essentially our best XI out there on the pitch, but it is far from a team with all its players guaranteed a place in the starting line up, Nathan Redmond is back and he could replace Moi Elyounoussi for instance and there are several other players who could justly claim they are worth a start, Lyanco & Perraud in defence, Diallo in the centre of midfield, Broja up front, not to mention the likes of Djenepo & Theo Walcott all of whom can contribute if needed and Nathan Tella who is surely due a chance and could well earn a starting place based on what we saw last season.
This is why we have genuine cause for optimism this season, we have a squad not a team and that is what is needed when you are playing teams like Norwich, their starting XI is not brilliant, but it can raise itself sometimes, but they don't have the options off the bench, that was the case for us last season, but things have changed.
So Saints have to tame the Canaries early bluster, keep it tight and then put them to the sword, Che Adams is on a high after scoring for Scotland and is in form, Adam Armstrong having scored the winner against Villa will be keen to turn this into a scoring run and Armando Broja is going to be a big player, perhaps not with us.
We should win this game, but many sides have fallen to a shock defeat just when they thought they were odds on favourites, we have to guard against complacency, we have moved ourselves up the table through hard work and eradicating a lot of the lapses in concentration that cost us dearly in past seasons, we have to keep doing that again at Carrow Road.
Photo: Action Images
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When Saturday Comes #16 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes, and this time instead of an international break we played yesterday evening, and now have the luxury of sitting back and seeing what’s going to happen around us in the league table. A gritty display last night saw the U’s fight back from a being a goal down, with Freddy netting his 8th of the season, helped in no small measure by an inch-perfect through ball from Alan Judge. Whisper it, but with (at least) 30 competitive matches to go to the end of the season, Freddy’s average of 0.4 goals per game would actually see him reach that mythical ’20 goals per season’ figure – not bad for an Ipswich reject 😊.
When Saturday Comes #15 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes, and finally the U’s return to the league programme after what seems an age as a result of our international break. The Forest Green match has been rearranged for 21st December, the last Tuesday before Xmas, and it will no doubt be a chilly night on top of the hill overlooking Nailsworth. Originally billed as a 7pm kick-off, it seems to have been pushed back to 7.45pm now – better make sure before I set off on the short drive for that one. Talking of short drives, bravo to our U18s winning 2-0 at Swindon in the FA Youth Cup midweek, to set up a mouth-watering home tie against Arsenal in the 3rd Round.
When Saturday Comes #14 by wessex_exile
This week, When Saturday Comes the U’s find themselves on an international break and a weekend off for the WAGs to get in some Christmas shopping. Just as well too, given the U’s have inconsiderately eased past AFC Sudbury to deny them the customary FA Cup Second Round break in December to do likewise. We wait to hear who our opponent will be at the JobServe – it’ll be either top of League One Wigan Athletic or Cameron Coxe’s National League parent club Solihull Moors, who replay at Damson Park on Tuesday evening. Incidentally, Solihull Moors may be part of history being made today, with their match at Meadow Lane already expected to easily top 10,000, and may break the record attendance for that league, which currently stands at 11,083 when Bristol Rovers faced Alfreton Town in 2015.
When Saturday Comes #13 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes…will we still be in the FA Cup? I heard somewhere during the week that the U’s have been eliminated from the FA Cup by non-league opposition more times than any other league club! Remarkable really when you consider that many non-U’s associate Colchester United with the greatest FA Cup giant-killing of all time. Following tonight, we travel to Portman Road on Tuesday night to see if we can stay in the Pizza Slice Trophy. Regardless that it is a much-maligned competition these days, surely that’s motivation enough for our tractor boy contingent?
When Saturday Comes #12 by wessex_exile
A relegation six-pointer already, seriously! Grim news so early in a season which had such promise, but that may well turn out to be the reality when the dust settles in May. On the eve of All-Hallows Eve, I’m wondering whether the U’s will have served up Trick or Treat by 5pm this afternoon. Plenty has been written over the last week by supporters, the press, even the Chairman about the protests during and after the Sutton United rocky horror football show, and whilst everyone has the right to voice their opinion on the club’s fortunes on and off the pitch, that doesn’t give anyone (even the Chairman) the right to be abusive – it’s not big, it’s not clever, and if anything it undermines the validity of that opinion.
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