Although Chris Hughton’s relegation fears would have been heightened even further by last Sunday’s embarrassing collapse away at Aston Villa, there is cause for optimism at Carrow Road with the Canaries proving a tough nut to crack on home turf in recent times. They’ve kept four consecutive clean sheets at home against Newcastle, Hull, Manchester City and most recently Tottenham – but they remain perilously close to the bottom three.
Hughton’s job has at times this season been put into question and last weekend’s result will not have appeased any of the Norwich fans hoping for a chance in management. However, a victory over Stoke at the weekend could see them breach the 30-point mark and go level on points with both West Ham and Aston Villa who occupy 10th and 11th respectively.
Stoke themselves are by no means safe yet but will be boosted by their recent form that’s seen them lose one of their last five – a narrow loss away to title-chasing City. Indeed, last weekend’s impressive victory over Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal is the type of confidence boosting result that can propel a team on at the climax of a Premier League season – even if it was marred by Charlie Adams’ reckless stamp on Olivier Giroud that has seen him banned for three games by the FA.
How vital his absence is remains to be seen, but with winnable games against West Ham and Aston Villa to come, Mark Hughes will be hoping he isn’t left to rue the Scotsman’s indiscipline. It’s not all doom and gloom at the Britannia though, and three points will see them occupy tenth spot come Saturday evening.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 3pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS…
Sept 2013: Stoke 0-1 Norwich (Howson), Premier League
April 2013: Stoke (Adam) 1-0 Norwich, Premier League
Nov 2012: Norwich (Johnson) 1-0 Stoke, Premier League
Five of the last six encounters between these two have ended 1-0, with Norwich claiming three wins and Stoke two.
If Norwich are victorious on Saturday, both teams will have an identical head-to-head record against each other with 17 wins apiece and 14 draws
There have been just six goals in the five Premier League meetings between these two
No team has picked up fewer points on the road than Stoke this season, collecting a measly six points – the same as Cardiff on their travels
Norwich to win: 2.25
Stoke to win: 3.5