Norwich City-Swansea City Preview
One of the most unique things specific to the Premier League is that every week drama can be found at both ends of the table. Saturday's clash between Swansea City and Norwich City at the Liberty Stadium is a perfect example of the latter.
In a season which hasn't gone quite as planned, 16th-place Swansea City (7-9-12) earned one of their best results of the season Wednesday, a 2-1 victory at Arsenal that moved them to 30 points, and more importantly, six clear of the drop.
In a favourable position at the moment, a victory over Norwich (6-6-16) - currently at the top of the relegated list - would consolidate their standing and make them a good bet to avoid the drop.
The Swans fell behind at the Emirates thanks to a 15th-minute goal from Joel Campbell, but fought back and claimed what could turn out to be their most important three points of the season courtesy of goals from unlikely sources Wayne Routledge and defender Ashley Williams.
"I was obviously very happy to score the goal - it was an important goal - but the most the important thing is that we came here, showed a great attitude and pushed on when we were drawing to get three points," said Williams, who bundled home Gylfi Sigurdsson's free kick in the 74th minute for the match-winner. "I'm so proud of the guys. It's a difficult place to come against a very good team who are trying to win the league.
"They had a lot of chances, but overall I felt we deserved something from the game. There were a lot of people that didn't think we would get anything from the game, but we have to back this win up with another win on Saturday or else it counts for nothing."
Swans interim manager Alan Curtis, whose decision to switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation swung the match in his side's favour, echoed his captain's sentiments.
The boys were excellent tonight," Curtis said. "We set a standard tonight and we need to keep it going.
"It was a chance for some of the players coming in this evening, and they grabbed their opportunity and have given the manager a problem. Tonight was a reminder that we're still a good footballing team. We passed the ball well in the second half and played good football."
Curtis will direct the Swans for a second straight match as manager Francesco Guidolin remains hospitalised for a lung infection. The club stated the former Udinese boss could be released after the weekend.
While Swansea secured a result that could save their season, the situation is far more dire for Norwich City, who enter Saturday on 24 points. The Canaries are winless in eight in league play (0-1-7) and need to stop the rot to avoid this being a one-season stint in the Premier League.
To that end, Tuesday's result did not help as the east coast club suffered a 2-1 defeat to a resurgent Chelsea side thanks to first-half goals from Kenedy and Diego Costa. Despite their poor run of form and shipping a joint-worst 53 goals overall, Canaries manager Alex Neil remains positive his club can secure another season in the top flight with 10 fixtures remaining.
"We've got opportunities to do it and we're capable of doing it, that's the frustrating part," Neil told the club's official website. "We just need to take more of the chances that we do create.
"We need to win a good handful of the remaining games to make sure that we've got a good chance of staying up. We've got Swansea which is a huge game and then Manchester City before a batch of five or six matches that will determine where we are."
One of Norwich's three clean sheets in league play this season came in a 1-0 victory in the reverse fixture Nov. 7 on a 70th-minute goal from Johnny Howson.
Liberty Stadium is also expected to welcome new FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who plans to attend them natch and is in Wales this weekend for the International Football Association Board's annual meeting.