Rooney returns for Canaries visit

Wayne Rooney returns to the Manchester United side as Sir Alex Ferguson’s outfit seeks to reduce the five point gap to Manchester City in the Premier League. With the Blues having comfortably beaten Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, United visit high flying Norwich City seeking an ninth victory on the road this season. Rooney’s return provides a timely boost to Ferguson’s side following the Europa League defeat to Ajax in midweek.

However, proving that every silver cloud has a dark injury lining this season, United will be without Tom Cleverley after the midfielder injured his right ankle against the Dutch on Thursday night. It is not thought to be serious, but the 22-year-old midfielder will also now miss England’s friendly will Holland next week.

The Reds visit Norwich for the first time in nearly seven years, having lost 2-0 on the sides last encounter at Carrow Road. In the intervening years Norwich has suffered relegation, but under Scot Paul Lambert, been rejuvenated this season. Indeed, only a spectacular collapse will now drag the Canaries into the relegation mix after Lambert’s side performed so admirably over the past six months.

On a limited budget, Lambert has fashioned an attacking side that can both play attractive football and mix it up when required. And in Grant Holt, Norwich possesses a striker who is over-performing this season. There is, says Ferguson, much to admire in the Norfolk club’s approach.

“Norwich is an interesting club because they have a full house for every match,” Ferguson told ManUtd.com.

“It’s in a lovely part of the world. They’ve got their own little empire down there. It’s just like when I was at Aberdeen, it feels as though you’re cut off from everywhere. Nonetheless they’re being very successful with it. I think they have probably exceeded everyone’s expectations. In fact, all the teams who were promoted have excelled, particularly Norwich. They’ve not signed a lot of players, they’ve stuck to their normal way of doing things, and although it’s difficult to say nowadays, I think they’ll be okay [in terms of staying up].”

Norwich City v Manchester United, Premier League, Carrow Road, 26 February 2012Norwich’s progress this season guarantees a competitive fixture for United, and although Rooney returns to Ferguson’s starting side after missing much of last week’s training with a sore throat, Cleverley’s absence so soon after returning from injury is a major blow. Ferguson will be thankful, then, that the 22-year-old midfielder has not damaged the left ankle that has proven to be so troublesome this season.

In Antonio Valencia’s continued absence, Ferguson is likely to select Ashley Young and Nani in wide areas, with Paul Scholes and 899-game veteran Ryan Giggs competing for a starting spot in central midfield. Rio Ferdinand returns after being rested for the midweek fixture against Ajax. Ferguson will choose between Danny Welbeck and midweek goalscorer Javier Hernández to partner Rooney in attack.

Indeed, Ferguson is certain to select a far stronger side than the inexperienced outfit that lost to Ajax in midweek. The Scot accepted the blame for that defeat, and with three points on offer on Sunday, will be expecting a strong reaction from his troops. Ferguson’s respect for his fellow Scot should ensure than no complacency creeps into his side’s performance as it has done in two fixtures against Ajax over the past 10 days.

“I knew Paul when he was a kid at St Mirren,” added Ferguson on Friday.

“He played under my brother, Martin, when Martin was a coach. Paul’s had a great career – he collected a European Cup winner’s medal with Borussia Dortmund and then he went on to Celtic. I think Norwich, for a young manager, is probably a good club to go to, where the expectation’s not too high and you’ve got a full house every week. There’s a lot of enthusiasm down there and I think it’s suited Paul well.”

Meanwhile, Lambert has Zak Whitbread available after hamstring injury, although Daniel Ayala, Marc Tierney and Jonny Howson are definitely out. Absences are unlikely to spoil the Canaries’ rhythm though – Norwich has lost just one of the past seven league fixtures, although FA Cup defeat to Leicester City last weekend will sting.

History is on United’s side though. Norwich has only beaten the Reds once in the sides past 13 league meetings – in April 2005 when goals from strikers Dean Ashton and Leon McKenzie secured a 2-0 victory. Fast forward seven years and another striker, Holt, who has nine Premier League goals this season, is likely to provide a physical test to both United’s back-four and goalkeeper David de Gea. It is a challenge that defender Jonny Evans – outstanding in recent weeks – is prepared to meet, despite the fallibility that United has shown this season under the high ball.

“Norwich have done well since they got promoted,” said the Northern Irishman.

“It seems like a pretty tough place to go. They have two big lads up front who seem to make it hard for you. I think Holt has played in every league. He is a big strong boy, as is Morison. It is going to be a real battle, a lot different to Ajax. In the Premier League, you are used to challenges, when it is a bit more rough. Paul Lambert seems to have them working really hard. It is going to be a tough game. It is a game their fans and players will have been looking forward to all season.

“These next two games are massive. We just have to keep the pressure on. Two points is nothing – you never feel like you are in control. I am sure they don’t. Once slip and it all changes. We want to keep within touching distance so if they do slip up, we can overtake them. The longer it goes, the more nervous they will get. They have been in front for quite a while now. We have been close to catching them. I am sure they would like the season to end now.”

Yet, any repeat of the 2005 defeat to Norwich would leave Ferguson’s side five points behind and playing catch up. It leaves anything less than the full three points unthinkable for the Scot’s men.

Match details
Norwich City versus Manchester United, Premier League, Carrow Road, 26 February 2012, 1.30pm.

Potential Line-ups
Norwich (4-4-2): Ruddy; R Martin, Ward, Naughton, Drury; Surman, Pilkington, Fox, Bennett; Holt, Jackson. Subs from: Steer, Barnett, Johnson, Crofts, Hoolahan, Morison, Wilbraham

United (4-4-1-1): de Gea; Jones, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Nani, Scholes, Carrick, Young; Rooney; Welbeck. Subs from: Amos, Smalling, Rafael, Fryers, Cole, Giggs, Park, Pogba, Hernández, Berbatov.

Stats to Note

  • Norwich has proven to be one of the surprise packages this season, with the Canaries currently in eighth place in the Premier League, winning four of the last six games;
  • Wayne Rooney scored twice in quick succession after half-time in United’s last Premier League fixture, against Liverpool, taking his tally to 17 Premier League goals this season;
  • Norwich snuck past Swansea City last weekend after another stand out display by Holt. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index Holt has had a 40 per cent shot success rate this season, scoring nine goals in the process;
  • Patrice Evra is the only player in this fixture to feature in the top 30 for distance covered this season;
  • Untied will miss key provider Valencia, who may return next weekend against Tottenham Hotspur. According to the Index Valencia has swung in a cross every eighteen minutes this season;
  • Steve Morison has been one of Norwich’s main attacking players this season. Morison has stike success rate of 27.5 per cent, scoring nine goals in the league. Morison’s last goal came against West Bromwich Albion.

Form
Norwich: DWLWWL
United: WLWDWL

Officials

Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)
Assistants: G Beswick, D Richardson
Fourth Official: J Moss

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Comments

  1. han says

    tough one to call really
    we will definitely miss tony v but if nani can break out of his nonsense as against ajax, then some kind of service will be provided
    i guess it will be a draw today

  2. Violent Banana says

    Worried that Clev is turning into our new Hargreaves. Be interesting to see how Welbeck and Hernandez combine.
    Time for an old fashioned scrappy 1-0 away from home?

  3. han says

    Commenter said:
    Worried that Clev is turning into our new Hargreaves. Be interesting to see how Welbeck and Hernandez combine.
    Time for an old fashioned scrappy 1-0 away from home?

    i would be v happy with that come 3.30pm this afternoon
    i think that welbeck and sweet pea could come up trumps though – but shame that berba is left on the bench yet again
    need a disciplined back line today because they have a couple of players up front that can do damage from set pieces

  4. han says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    berbashite should stàrt against riff raff when rooney doesnt

    well bugger me backwards with a half open umbrella
    fuckhead in agreement with han shocker

  5. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    I forgot they’ve got holt, another big kd lump of down syndrome shitehouse elbowing cunt, can play a bit though

    why aint wayne playing

  6. Sidsidney says

    sidney said:
    Are this lot clever enough to press Scholes and put balls over De Gea’s head

    The answer to that question would be no

    Teams STILL don’t track his run and leave him unmarked in the box

  7. han says

    fucking hate this lack of commentary on anything i have
    even the fucking updates are 3 minutes slow
    but….
    sccccccccccccccchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhollllllllllessssssss

  8. Sidsidney says

    Nani didn’t show any disrespect FFS nor did he do any tricks
    He lobbed the ball over the Nrwich goons’ head, then took it down
    Norwich are just small time cunts who have come out today to boo the skillful foreigner

  9. definitely not tommyTommy says

    So having good ball skills and close control, and displaying those skills in an attempt to go around defenders, is considered ‘disrespectful’ to the opposition? Fuck me commentators talk some shite.

  10. JayJ says

    Theire full of shit remember when he did it against Arsenal in the F.A cup? Is that was Messi they would have jizzed their pants.

  11. Sidsidney says

    Tommy said:
    So having good ball skills and close control, and displaying those skills in an attempt to go around defenders, is considered ‘disrespectful’ to the opposition? Fuck me commentators talk some shite.

    Skill is perceived as dastardly foreign stuff, marginally better than outright cheating

  12. Sidsidney says

    The highlight for the Norwich fans and the commentators would be a skillful foreigner aka Nani trying a bit of skill and it not coming off
    That would get the biggest cheer/celebration of the day
    It’s the reassurance that skill isn’t the answer, but that hard work and desire and passion are

  13. JayJ says

    That would have been a sucker punch after all the pressure, Chicharito should have scored from there hes better than that.

    • JayJ says

      As long as we score in those 10 mins and not concede for the rest i dont care. They are pressing all over the pitch, they cant keep it up all game. They will tire mid way through 2nd half and we will score again.

  14. han says

    the bbc website is shite
    5 minutes at least behind the play
    and nowt on radio either
    fucking might as well be the 1980s

    • Violent Banana says

      they said it was 1-0 to norwich at half-time, and gave Saha’s goal to Arsenal. If you can’t even get the scores right, how can you provide a decent fooball service?!

  15. han says

    sitting on our lead is why we have a problem
    should have put the game away in the 1st 20 mins with all that possession
    SAF needs to kick some arse at h/t otherwise we will be looking pretty casual

  16. Violent Banana says

    Neviller got it right about the big games between the top teams – incredibly entertaining but it’s no wonder we’re doing so badly in the CL/Europe given how poor the defending has been

  17. JayJ says

    We are getting more posession but they look dangerous on the break, Welbeck is taking the piss outta them. To be fair Hernandez hasnt had a great game, hes always capable of nicking a goal tho.

  18. Sidsidney says

    Commenter said:
    What’s going on in our match

    Nowt

    If Norwich score, we’ll turn it on and go for a second

    Failing that we’ll plod our way to a second, hopefully, because we keep getting in

  19. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    Welbeck is world class though…..

    This had us dropping points all day long! This is why we are in a false position! If Chelsea or Arsenal had had a good season we’d be fucked!

  20. JayJ says

    Get the fuck in!! We didnt deserve to win but we did, seriously need to sort out our finishing tho. Great to see the lads celebrating like that, could have finished the title bid not winning there. O yes and Parker just got sent off so he wont be playing against us!

  21. Sidsidney says

    Class class class, fuck the smalltime cunts

    Deserved that win

    Great ball in from Young for Giggs

    Norwich play more like Stoke than I thought. They get it out wide a bit, but they’re still shite

  22. han says

    Commenter said:
    Get the fuck in!! We didnt deserve to win but we did, seriously need to sort out our finishing tho. Great to see the lads celebrating like that, could have finished the title bid not winning there. O yes and Parker just got sent off so he wont be playing against us!

    wouldn’t it be a great afternoon just if the dippers got turned over now

  23. sheesh says

    Parker misses the United game next week – maybe ‘Arry will pick his dog, Rosie, instead.

    I’ll bet she’s got more bollocks than the Spurs midfield combined.

  24. han says

    sheesh said:
    Parker misses the United game next week – maybe ‘Arry will pick his dog, Rosie, instead.

    I’ll bet she’s got more bollocks than the Spurs midfield combined.

    how the fuck did the arse gang bang harry’s boys after being 2 up?
    fucking crazy season

  25. DeadRevel says

    The anti-Welbeck cunt. And whoever said we’re in a ‘false position’ in the league.

    Stupid bitter cunts.

    And yes, I’d fucking love it if Cardiff turned that mob over.

  26. han says

    sheesh said:
    Parker misses the United game next week – maybe ‘Arry will pick his dog, Rosie, instead.

    I’ll bet she’s got more bollocks than the Spurs midfield combined.

    or even his missus

  27. JayJ says

    Fuck yes come on Cardiff, hope Bellamy scores an o.g on purpose cos he fucking hates scousers. De Gea was brilliant today, Jones solid again. For all the stick Young has been getting he was great when he came on and delivered the ball for Giggs to score. Good lad. What are we gona do without Scholes and Giggs!?

  28. definitely not tommyTommy says

    We had a lot of decent individual performances today, just failed to put it to bed. All’s well that ends well I suppose. But how long are we gonna keep getting away with it?

    I just want a game that isn’t a roller coaster of emotion once in a while, is that too much to ask?

    Anyway three points is three points, glad to see giggsy grab the winner. Nice to see the lads celebrate with the fans (who showed some decent voice for once).

    Now to become a temporary Cardiff supporter.

  29. sheesh says

    Why wasn’t our game on telly FFS. What’s the point in having multiple Sky Sports channels for showing live sport if you can’t cover 2 matches at the same time?

  30. han says

    sheesh said:
    Why wasn’t our game on telly FFS. What’s the point in having multiple Sky Sports channels for showing live sport if you can’t cover 2 matches at the same time?

    wasn’t even on the radio or the new bbc footie webshite – fucking updates might as well be tomorrow – get it sorted u beeb fucks, take enough of our licence fees u twats

  31. madredmonkeymadredmonkey says

    top sides cant defend like we used to, that’s why we are doing so poor in Europe, arsenal won 5-2 but shocking defending in that game, why has English football started defending so poorly.

  32. sheesh says

    han said:
    wasn’t even on the radio or the new bbc footie webshite – fucking updates might as well be tomorrow – get it sorted u beeb fucks, take enough of our licence fees u twats

    Just read somewhere that the game was originally due to be played on Saturday but got shifted because of Europa League. It wasn’t going to be shown on telly on the Saturday so, due to contractual terms, it couldn’t be shown today either – at least for those of us watching Sky in the UK.

  33. han says

    sheesh said:
    Just read somewhere that the game was originally due to be played on Saturday but got shifted because of Europa League. It wasn’t going to be shown on telly on the Saturday so, due to contractual terms, it couldn’t be shown today either – at least for those of us watching Sky in the UK.

    cheers sheesh but ffs the cunts at sky knew we were in europa league since december and they could have put us on one of their channels im sure

  34. Wil says

    How many games this season (and even last) have we seen United being out-muscled in midfield by second-tier teams? It’s ridiculous how little possession we had after we scored… and even more incredible how we suddenly switched back on after Norwich’s equalizer and made 3-4 good scoring opportunities. Why can’t we do this all game or at least 50% of the game?!

    Jones need to learn fast. He is giving the ball away too cheaply. Evra is still defensively a liability, especially playing with Giggs as a left wing. Most of Norwich’s (and countless premiership teams) attack was on the right…

    On the plus side, De Gea’s form has really picked up. Looks more confident and really some of his saves are a class act. Evans seems to be playing better as well which will definitely help in pushing for the league. I also like Welbeck, he holds the ball well and can do short passes with the rest of the team with ease. The only problem is his shooting ability. Yes, he has scored important goals but he has also missed quite a lot of easy scoring opportunities (even one-on-ones!). If he can pick up that aspect of his game, he will be a bloody good player for us. I just hope he doesn’t turn into Andy Cole who scores 1 in every 9 chances….

  35. says

    sidney said:
    Cal

    You called? That old chesnut again Sidney? No need really. We have been down this road too many times. Nothing since has changed my mind.

    At Spurs on sunday we should have Jones and Carrick in midfield with Giggs behind Rooney; Young and Nani wide.

  36. Denton Davey says

    Calvino @ 10:18: “At Spurs on sunday we should have Jones and Carrick in midfield with Giggs behind Rooney; Young and Nani wide.”

    You’re probably right BUT in a big match, SAF will go with TheGingerNinja.

    I’m no fan of Ashley Young – I don’t understand why SAF splurged 17million on a 27 year-old, one-footed, lightweight when he already had two outstanding wingers and no obvious replacements for Giggs/Scholes. To be sure, Young has had some “moments” so far but his overall play is too predictable – and he has no confidence whatsoever in his left foot so he narrows UTD’s options.

  37. Sidsidney says

    Yesterday Young played more centrally at times, and he did alright

    Put in a great ball for Giggs’ winner

    He’s just a good squad player who’ll take on the riff raff

  38. dozer says

    Young is an improvement to our 11 and at £16m he came at a good price. This price includes that he was a tested player in the premier league and at a ‘good age’ too, i.e. no waiting time etc. He’s also English, so that’s a premium there, we got a good deal at 16m, it was his final year at Villa after all.
    There are not many wingers out there and Nani’s poor on the left. Unless a Ronaldo or even a left footed Valencia prop up, I’m happy with Young.

    Sir Ryan Giggs? No no no. Sir Paul Scholes say.

  39. Denton DAVEY says

    Dozer – “nani poor on the left” ? Poor cutting in on his stronger, right foot ? I suppose that all his assists/goals have only occurred when Antonio Valencia has been unavailable to play on the right side .???????

    Some comments confound logic with prejudice. That was a prime example.

    Admittedly, I’m a big fan of #17 BUT since January 2010 he’s been UTD’s best winger when he hasn’t been injured or kicked unfairly -like the GBH by Carragher last year or the assault-with-intent yesterday by Bradley Johnson, whose cynical was deserving of more than a yellow card. Compared with Antonio Valencia, Nani is a bit of a wuss and (unlike CR7) he rarely uses opposition rough tactics to raise his game BUT the attacking left-side with CaptainEvra and Nani is fantastic.

  40. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    its weird how nanis right footed yet when he’s on the left he never comes inside and shoots with it yet does it all the time when on the other wing shooting with his weaker side

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