Chris Hughton insists Norwich do not fear playing Manchester United at Old Trafford
United are on an unbeaten league run now standing at 15 games - 13 of which they have won
Friday 01 March 2013
Norwich manager Chris Hughton has stressed the prospect of taking on Barclays Premier League champions-elect Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday holds no fear for his players.
United, 12 points clear at the top of the table, appear to be on an unstoppable march towards this season's title, with their unbeaten league run now standing at 15 games - 13 of which they have won.
Ahead of this weekend's contest, though, it is notable that the Red Devils' last top-flight defeat - a 1-0 loss in November - came at Norwich, who last Saturday halted their own nine-match winless streak by beating Everton 2-1.
Previewing his side's trip to Manchester, Hughton said: "We know our season is not going to be based on results at Old Trafford, but you also know there is a chance you can get something.
"There will be no fear from our players - we will want to go there and play."
Following the Everton victory, 12th-placed Norwich are eight points clear of the relegation zone and looking fairly secure with 11 games to go.
Another team heading in the right direction are Newcastle, now 13th and six points above the drop zone after defeating Southampton last Sunday.
Ninth-placed Swansea were crowned Capital One Cup champions the same afternoon and they host the Magpies tomorrow.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is not anticipating the Welsh side will have a Wembley hangover, saying: "They are having a fabulous season and to win the cup was the real icing on the cake.
"But they have still got a big part of the season left and I am sure (Swansea manager) Michael Laudrup will be reminding them as such."
The major relegation battle last weekend saw Wigan move out of the bottom three - clear of it on goal difference alone in 17th place - by winning at Reading, who are now second-bottom, a point behind the Latics and 18th-placed Aston Villa.
Wigan are at home against Liverpool in Saturday's 5.30pm kick-off and boss Roberto Martinez said: "There is a strong fight for the top four and a strong fight for a European place but the biggest fight is to avoid those three positions at the bottom of the table.
"It could definitely go to the final whistle of the last game."
Reading are at Everton, while rock-bottom QPR - six points adrift of the Royals - travel to Southampton, who are three points better off than Wigan in 16th.
In Saturday's other matches Stoke entertain West Ham, Sunderland welcome Fulham to the Stadium of Light and fourth-placed Chelsea play at home against West Brom - a game where there could be a decent reception for the Baggies' head coach, ex-Blues player and assistant boss Steve Clarke, but a distinctly frosty one for Rafael Benitez, the interim manager at Stamford Bridge, following his outburst this week.
Sunday sees the north London derby at White Hart Lane between Tottenham (third) and Arsenal (fifth), as the race for a Champions League berth hots up.
Second-placed Manchester City then make the trip to Villa on Monday evening.
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