February 11, 2016

Norwich City FC have long been a bit an up-and-down club. They consistently shuffle between the Premier League and the Championship because they are unable to establish themselves as a long-term Premier League side.

The same is true again for the Canaries this season. They've played some fantastic football, but again need to stop the rot as they face a supremely confident West Ham United side on Saturday at Carrow Road.

The Canaries (6-5-14) enter the clash in 18th place with 23 points and are hoping a victory for a win over the Hammers, which could take them out of the dreaded relegation zone, but they'll need to put the brakes on a five-match losing streak in league play in which their defence has been in tatters.

Back-to-back shutout losses, 3-0 to Tottenham and 2-0 at last-place Aston Villa, have shown the issues have spread throughout the pitch. Norwich enter this match trying to avoid their first six-match losing streak in the top flight since losing their first seven in the 1994-95 campaign - one that ended with them being relegated. The Canaries' 48 goals shipped are better than only Sunderland (49), and this poor stretch of defensive play came after posting two of their three clean sheets in victories over Villa and Southampton.

West Ham United (10-9-6), by contrast, have been in fine form for most of the season and come in with plenty of confidence after knocking Liverpool out of the FA Cup on Tuesday with a 2-1 extra-time victory as Angelo Ogbonna connected on a header in the 121st minute to avoid penalty kicks.

There's no better way to win a football match," goalkeeper Darren Randolph told West Ham TV. "I honestly did think we were going to win, especially the way we started the game. I always knew we'd get chances, it just depended on if we could take them.

"I had a little bit of hope coming towards the end of the game, and when we got the free-kick out wide and I thought, well, this is the last chance. Obviously we need to score, otherwise it's penalties. I was looking at the clock and it was 14 minutes or so, and I was looking over at the bench, trying to get Woods' attention to try and get the penalties ready, just in case. Thankfully, they weren't needed."

While West Ham probably wish they could face Liverpool every week - they've bested the Merseysiders three times this season -- a wounded and hungry Canaries side will undoubtedly present a unique challenge for manager Slaven Bilic's men.

"Well, we have a few knocks and injuries but overall it's a good feeling. Even those guys with a knock, they feel good," Bilic said at his pre-match press conference. "When you win you don't feel the fatigue as much. 120 minutes is of course a lot to play, but we are all looking forward to the Norwich game on Saturday."

The Hammers are thin on the back line heading into Saturday as Winston Reid and Joey O'Brien are nursing hamstring injuries and could be unavailable, while James Tomkins has already been ruled out.

"We have a situation with Joey O'Brien and Winston Reid, they both injured hamstrings, they are having a scan today and then we will know," Bilic added. We have also James Tomkins who is out for five weeks, they are three big defenders for us, it's not a great situation.

"I think the knocks are going to be OK for Saturday. Cheikhou Kouyate is OK, he is doing well, but because of the rules he can't play because he was unconscious. It's a big blow for us of course, but we will put a strong team out. Alex Song is back, we have enough to put a very strong team out."

One of those players Bilic will put out - Dimitri Payet - will be around for much longer after the France international signed a new contract through 2021 on Thursday. Payet leads Hammers with six goals and five assists in all competitions.

West Ham rallied twice to earn a draw with Norwich at Upton Park in September. Robbie Brady had the visitors in front after nine minutes, only to have Diafra Sakho cancel that out on the half-hour. Nathan Redmond then scored in the 83rd minute to restore the Canaries lead, but Kouyate netted in the third minute of stoppage time to steal a point for the Hammers.

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