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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Norwich City vs. Manchester City

Carrow Road


15h00 GMT

The Canaries versus The Citizens

The champions' travelling Christmas continues with a difficult trip to Norwich and a game that has assumed an absolutely must win status...

Vital Quotes:

Chris Hughton:
'What we have to do is make sure we are right in it on Saturday. If we are right in it, it gives us a chance. Most people would have expected Man City to have won at Sunderland because of what they have got and the way they are pushing...City will want a reaction but we also want a reaction here because although the Chelsea game was a tight one and there is no shame for us in losing to a top, top team, it hurts. We want to get back into winning ways and it will be a good opportunity for us.'

David Platt:
'In the last few games we have produced enough efforts on goal but if you correlate the statistics we should be scoring more goals. These things have a habit of balancing out over the season. What we have to do is keep on producing the chances. But it's not just about strikers. We have to start scoring goals when we have a supremacy in the game.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't do any business (in January). The kind of players you would want to improve a squad like Manchester City are invariably already playing for the top teams that are involved in chasing honours."

Norwich City Team News:

Steven Whittaker
Andrew Surman

Player to watch: Michael Turner

Former Sunderland man Turner has been the key man at the heart of the Norwich defence when sending big sides packing so far this season. If City heed the words of Roberto Mancini, his frustrated side are likely to kitchen sink Norwich on Saturday and Turner's reading of the backline will be crucial if the Canaries are to come through this encounter unscathed.

Manchester City Team News:

Aleksander Kolarov
Micah Richards
Jack Rodwell
John Guidetti

Carlos Tevez - virus
Mario Balotelli - virus

Player to watch: Sergio Aguero

At this point last season Kun Aguero had rattled in 15 goals compared to his 8 in this campaign. This constitutes something of a barren run for the brilliant young Argentine forward with City's strikers under the microscope at the season's half way stage. In point of fact Kun has missed a small mountain of chances, registering 7.17 shots per goal, but any game now he's going to find his footing again with those new boots and start finding his range again. Norwich beware.

Match Facts & Stats

The Blues arrive in Norwich having registered only 3 wins in 9 games across all competitions.

City have won 3 of 4 Premier League clashes with Norwich who have only ever beaten The Blues 9 times.

The champions have 6 points less than at the same stage last season and have lost the same number of games, 2.

Norwich have won 5 of their last 6 home league matches. Only City, the rags and West Brom have a better home record.

If Norwich lose following defeats to West Brom and Chelsea, it will be the second time this season that they have lost 3 consecutive league games.

League: 26 City Wins, 18 Draws, 8 Norwich Wins
League Cup: 4 City Wins, 2 Draws
FA Cup: 2 City Wins, 1 Norwich Win
Total: 32 City Wins, 20 Draws, 9 Norwich Wins

Sa 14Apr 2012 Norwich 1 - 6 Man City PL
Sa 03Dec 2011 Man City 5 - 1 Norwich PL
Tu 25Sep 2007 Man City 1 - 0 Norwich CC
Mo 28Feb 2005 Norwich 2 - 3 Man City PL
Mo 01Nov 2004 Man City 1 - 1 Norwich PL

BETTING: Norwich 5 Draw 16/5 City 8/15 Racing Post Soccerbase



CLASSIC CITY TUBE: Norwich City v Manchester City, 21st January 1978

Ref Watch:

M Jones from Chester 4th Official C Pawson. -Last Season: Su 21Aug 2011 Bolton 2 - 3 Man City, Tu 03Jan 2012 Man City 3 - 0 Liverpool , Sa 25Feb 2012 Man City 3 - 0 Blackburn -This Season: No City Fixtures Refereed To Date -2011/12: 33 Games, 112 Yellows, 9 Reds -2012/2013: 17 Games, 51 Yellows, 1Red.

Match Prediction:

Johnny On The Spot: Following that hugely disappointing Boxing Day defeat at Sunderland, Planet Blue has reverberated to intense debate over the likes of the City squad's tactics, a lack of a Plan B and a lack of width. Justifiably so, because man for man this is one of the most talented groups of footballers to ever grace the English top flight. Champions are crowned on merit. So why aren't they battering the opposition out of sight this season? Well, to an extent, they are, and it isn't rocket science. There's surely no need to hit the panic button and radically change our attacking approach. Or is there? City constantly threaten to pass sides to death in a seemingly relentless pursuit of the perfect goal, essentially through the middle the exact same way Arsenal have frustrated their supporters in recent years in taking one touch too many or being stifled out of it. All too often City play too narrowly right through the side and this correspondent has lost count of the amount of times a ball is played into the strikers with the strikers backs to goal and a defensive wall. All of which means we've been sussed out and I'd suggest this has been the case from Christmas last year save for the tremendous title winning run-in where City opened up and became much more direct, shooting on sight. Take a look at this week's VMC Preview YouTube footage from Norwich in 1978. An object lesson of a more direct, width driven approach and finishing that City need to aspire to again quickly if we are to fend off the Chelsea charge, nevermind keep pace with the Stretfords. We cannot rely solely upon hopes that United will not be able to sustain scoring more than the opposition all season. Of course it's doubtful that a side letting in as many goals as the rags do can maintain scraped wins all season. They've no chance of that...Norwich have reasserted themselves this season and we should expect a stern test of our title retaining credentials. My heart believes again that should City secure an early lead then it will be game over, but I sense we could be in for more of the same frustration ahead of regrouping back at Carrington. If so, we are looking at a draw that we can ill afford right now. Norwich 1 City 1

Next Fixtures:

all times East Manchester
Tu 01Jan 15h00 Stoke, The Etihad, PL
Sa 05Jan 15h00 Watford, The Etihad, FAC
Su 13Jan 16h00 Arsenal, The Emirates, PL
Sa 19Jan 15h00 Fulham, The Etihad, PL
Tu 29Jan 19h45 QPR, Loftus Road, PL

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The journalist

Writer: Johnny Baguette Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday December 28 2012

Time: 2:14PM


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