Date: 16th November 2012 at 9:42pm
Written by:

Smalling: A much needed return.

Saturday means match-day, and this weekend United make the 190 mile trip down the country, to face Delia Smith’s Norwich City, in their 12th game of the Premier League season.

After an international non-break which saw United continue to sit proudly on top of the table, it’ll be interesting to see what side Sir Alex Ferguson puts out against Chris Hughton’s ‘Canaries’, who lie in 15th place in the league.

United once again had to come from behind last weekend to beat Aston Villa 3-2, with Javier Hernandez coming off the bench to smash a hat-trick in to rescue the game for the reds.  With Danny Welbeck netting for England in midweek, and main men Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie forming a formidable partnership up front, all four strikers have have grounds for inclusion for this one…that’s if van Persie’s and Rooney’s injuries clear up…!

Team news:

With Chris Smalling available for selection again, he’s likely to partner Rio Ferdinand at the heart of the defence. Johnny Evans is a doubt with a groin injury.  Wayne Rooney carries an ankle injury but could be available, and Vidic and Kagawa (knee), Nani (hamstring) and Phil Jones (match fitness) again miss out.

Anderson, Cleverley and Carrick could fill three midfield spots, allowing the boss to pick three of his strikers, who are all hungry for goals.

Norwich City:

Norwich are without defender Russell Martin (back) and midfielder Alex Tettey also has a back problem, but could be available.

On-loan Spurs striker Harry Kane continues his recovery from a broken toe, so won’t feature.  The Norwich faithful will be hoping that striker Grant Holt can take advantage of United’s current defensive frailties and grab a goal or two.

United we stand:

Comparisons have been made between the current side and the squad that won the treble in 1999 in recent weeks. Similarities such as the four strikers who could each be a first choice, to the convincing points tally on the board in qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League.

But moreover, United are winning games when ‘not playing well’. I’m not sure that we’re ‘not playing well’, but we certainly have a lot of cracks at the moment and it’s encouraging that we still top the table. But there’s a time and a place where the cracks need to be filled, sanded down, and made good. For me, this has to start at Carrow Road.

I’m confident that we’ll keep our first clean sheet since 7th October in this one, after conceding 15 goals in seven games (including one with extra time).  It’s the conceding of goals that makes it look like we’re ‘not playing well’, but you don’t win your last eight games in nine by ‘not playing well’.

This is the beginning of a run in where, on paper, we should be furthering our position at the top of the table, and I’m hopeful that we’ll start to take control of games from here on in.

Want a bet?

How about a bit of money on the game? Here’s a few selections…odds supplied by Bet365.com…

  • United to win 3-0 – 10/1
  • Javier Hernandez to score three or more goals – 22/1
  • Draw at half time, United to win – 10/3
  • Chris Smalling to score first in a 2-0 win – 100/1

Wherever you’re watching it, enjoy the game.

For football conversation, not lectures – and other incoherent babble and banter, follow me on Twitter: @stevecrab