A few months ago, I remember looking at this fixture and thinking it’ll be an absolute must-win if we want to stay up, knowing full well we had Liverpool, Man City and Arsenal to come after.
A few months on, Newcastle go into the trip to Norwich knowing we’ll move into the top 10 with a win. If that doesn’t sum up what an incredible turnaround this has been, I don’t know what does!
Only Liverpool have picked up more points than Eddie Howe’s Mags in 2022, we’ve won six on the bounce at home for the first time since the Sir Bobby and, in the 15 games we’ve played since the turn of the year, we’ve only conceded more than once on one occasion.
One thing the manager has mentioned as an area in need of improvement is our ability to control games and express ourselves that bit more, so this trip to bottom of the table Norwich could be the ideal opportunity to work on exactly that.
They have picked up lately, being unlucky to lose at Old Trafford after beating Burnley in their last home match, however this is a game where I’d love to see us score a few goals and play with an air of confidence and freedom now we’ve reached the 40 point mark.
Howe has hinted at changes for this one, believing it’s vital we field a side of fully fit players able to give 100% as we go into our third game in less than a week.
Ryan Fraser (hamstring) is facing a “race against time” to play again this season following another scan on his hamstring, meaning he’s been ruled out of this one alongside Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson.
For the Canaries, Kenny McLean has been passed fit despite a small fracture in his toe and Brandon Williams could return after being ineligible to face Man Utd last weekend, but Lukas Rupp and Josh Sargent have been ruled out.
Predicted line ups
(3-5-2): Dubravka – Schar, Lascelles, Burn – Murphy, Guimaraes, S Longstaff, Willock, Targett – Saint-Maximin, Wood.
Four changes and a switch in formation may seem a bit bold – I could be way off here – however I think Howe will spring a few surprises in this one.
Shelvey and Joelinton looked shattered at the end of Wednesday night’s win, paving the way for Willock and Longstaff, while Lascelles has been talked up by Howe for some time without getting starts.
Murphy is someone who will be fresh and eager to impress against his former club and the change in shape could be something Howe considers when our last good away performance came when playing three at the back in that unfortunate defeat to Chelsea last month.
I was very tempted to put Gayle in my predicted XI given how leggy Wood has looked lately, but it’s difficult to go with a player who has managed just NINE minutes of football all season!
Predicted Norwich XI (4-2-3-1): Krul – Byram, Gibson, Hanley, Giannoulis – McLean, Normann, Dowell, Lees-Melou, Rashica – Pukki.
Maybe I’m getting caught up in Eddie Howe fever, but I think we’ll make a few changes, play with the shackles off and score a few goals against a Norwich side who simply need to win.
Because of that, Dean Smith’s side could overcommit and leave space in behind that we could exploit with the Canaries very unlikely to keep a clean sheet according to NetBet Casino.
Joe Willock to score in a game of goals at Carrow Road!
Prediction: Norwich 1-3 Newcastle