The Big Match Preview: Manchester City vs Norwich City (Premier League)
Over 11 months since it began and less than six weeks on from the resumption of the Premier League, after an unprecedented pause as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, the 2019/20 Premier League season will be drawn to a close.
With the final 10 of what were 92 remaining fixtures set to be played on Sunday afternoon, Manchester City welcome an already relegated Norwich to the Etihad, a side that were the first of several sides to deliver sucker punches to the Blues’ hopes of winning a third successive league title with a surprising win in the reverse fixture back in September.
Norwich, who failed to ever hit the heights that they did back in that game against City in September, have had a bitterly disappointing year with 26 losses and five wins all season. Nearly 15% of their points tally comes from that win over City, which uncovered frailties and vulnerabilities that would be continually exploited over the course of City’s campaign by other sides.
For Manchester City, it will be the first time in five seasons that they will be at home on the final day of the season and the last game they will play before that huge Champions League second-leg tie against Real Madrid a week on Friday. Given that City won four straight league games for the first this season on Tuesday, consistency is something that Guardiola’s side have lacked throughout the campaign, but will ultimately need if they are to stand any chance of lifting that Champions League trophy in a months time.
Pep Guardiola told the media on Friday that he expects to have a fully fit squad for the game against Real Madrid in just less than two` weeks times. Though on Sunday he will be without Sergio Agüero, who is reportedly working out intensely in the hope of being fit for the UCL having undergone knee surgery last month, alongside Claudio Bravo, who remains sidelined.
Sunday’s fixture is also expected to be David Silva’s 309th and final Premier League appearance, as the Spaniard prepares to bid farewell to the club after a remarkable decade.
Norwich are without the suspended Emiliano Buendia and Josip Drimic while Alex Tettey, Sam Byram, Timm Klose, Grant Hanley and Moritz Leitner are all unavailable due to injury.
Head To Head:
It will be the 70th time the two sides have met each other and it will be the second time this decade in which the City have hosted Norwich on the final day of the season, the last being in 2013 where Norwich won 3-2. That was the Blues’ only defeat in their last 11 final games of the season.
Of the 16 matches played this century, City have only lost on three occasions and have had some memorable victories over the Canaries. Obvious ones include the 6-1 thrashing in 2012 as Carlos Tevez bagged a hat-trick while a year later City put seven past them at Carrow Road.
In the 69 previous meetings, City have won 36, drawn 23 and lost 10 of matches, scoring 142 goals and conceding 69, with an average of 2.06 goals per game.
City come into the game having delivered a devastating blow to Watford’s survival hopes with 4-0 win on Tuesday. Having won five of their past six league matches, scoring four or more goals in four of those victories, City, although unpredictable, are in decent form.
The form of individual City players may also be rewarded after the final game of the season, with Ederson level with Burnley’s Nick Pope on 15 clean sheets in the race for the golden glove. While Kevin De Bruyne could still break the Premier League assists record, with the Belgian two away from breaking Henry’s record. City themselves are just three goals away from 100 league goals for the season, and although Raheem Sterling would need at least four goals to stake a claim to be golden boot winner, the winger is potentially only two away from clinching 2nd place.
Norwich have lost their last 10 games in all competitions, with their last win coming in an FA Cup penalty shootout-out against Spurs, days after just their 3rd league win of 2020 against Leicester in February. Having managed to score just 26 goals all campaign, Teemu Pukki has failed to have the impact he did in the Championship last season for Daniel Farke. The misery of Norwich’s season return to the top-flight was optimised in their last outing, as they had two players sent off in the first of half of a 2-0 loss to Burnley last weekend.
Craig Pawson will conclude his seventh straight season in the top-flight by taking charge of proceedings at the Etihad on Sunday. Pawson, whose only previous visit to the Etihad this season was when he refereed City’s 2-0 defeat to Wolves back in October, a game in which he showed seven yellow cards will be joined by linesmen Richard West and and Nick Greenhalgh. Tony Harrington will be the fourth official, while VAR duties have been assigned to Darren England (VAR) and Nick Hopton (AVAR).
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