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Opposition View: Norwich City

30 December 2016

The Eastern Daily Press' Norwich City correspondant Paddy Davitt on what to expect from The Canaries

What went so right for Norwich against us in the first game?

What has become pretty clear this season for Norwich City in the Championship is they struggle against teams who want to press them, particularly in the middle of the park. When they come up against sides who are willing to perhaps sit off and let City dominate the ball and control territory they are as good as any side in the division with a number of technical players in the squad. A lad who Brentford fans will know well, Alex Pritchard, started his first league game for Norwich in the number 10 role that afternoon and he really set the tempo and ran the show. Of course going 2-0 up inside 16 minutes set the tone and got the home fans firmly onside after a difficult run of results.

Was that the turning point that the manager and players hoped it would be?

No, given how results have panned out since. Norwich have only won one of the next four games and go into this match on the back of eight league defeats in the last ten. The reality is there have been too many false dawns and such inconsistency is why they are well off the pace in terms of the top six and Alex Neil himself has already publicly conceded the top two is now beyond them.

Are Norwich wary of a wounded animal looking for revenge on Saturday?

It’s more a case of worrying about themselves now. The last two games have been noticeable for a growing and vocal reaction from Norwich fans inside the stadiums to this nosedive in results. Alex Neil needs a result, so do his players and they will not be taking anything for granted or placing too much store by what happened at Carrow Road. You only have to look at how Brentford have responded since and the quotes from Dean Smith prior to this game to realise Brentford will be a much tougher proposition at Griffin Park.

How is the manager’s position now after six points from five games?

Norwich’s chief executive publicly backed the manager in the last few days following a Boxing Day defeat at Reading which, as mentioned previously, prolonged a desperate run of results. Moxey refused to give a timeline on Neil’s future but made it clear results must change quickly. Neil still has the backing of the board and the club’s owners but as he himself has said, the buck stops with him.

Norwich’s away form is patchy at the moment, do they look to play differently away from home and does that explain the form difference?

No. Put simply the same frailties in terms of defending set pieces, not being able to handle the pressing of energetic opponents and a general lack of confidence are evident both home and away on this run.

Who are the men in form to watch out for?

Again, it will be interesting to see how Alex Neil reacts to that Reading defeat. Graham Dorrans picked up an injury and Jonny Howson is suspended so he will be forced into changes in midfield. That could mean a recall for Alex Pritchard who has limited action since his pivotal role in the corresponding fixture. Ivo Pinto is a key figure in terms of what he offers in an attacking sense from full-back.

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