Wycombe Wanderers have made no secret of their excitement to be in the Championship for the first time, despite making a very slow start to the season.
This weekend the Chairboys face one of their toughest tests of the campaign so far, as they visit Norfolk to face Norwich City, who were playing Premier League football just three months ago.
After missing Norwich’s match against Birmingham City through illness, German midfielder Marco Stiepermann could return to the matchday squad this weekend but is not ready to start just yet.
It was hoped that centre-back Christoph Zimmermann would be available again for the Canaries having missed the last two games with a calf problem, but he is still not fit to play. Sam Byram, Kieran Dowell and Onel Hernandez remain sidelined with longer-term injuries.
Meanwhile, Wycombe have a number of players who could make a return from injury if their pre-match assessments go successfully, including the likes of Dominic Gape, Uche Ikpeazu and Jason McCarthy.
Young Albanian midfielder Anis Mehmeti has made two league appearances for the Chairboys so far this season and he will be particularly keen to feature in East Anglia against his former club.
Norwich: Krul; Aarons, Hanley, Gibson, Quintilla; Skipp, Rupp; Buendia, Cantwell; Pukki, Hugill
Wycombe: Allsop; Grimmer, Knight, Stewart, Jacobson; Bloomfield, Thompson, Adeniran, Horgan; Kashket, Samuel
The Canaries responded to two straight league defeats (inflicted by Bournemouth and Derby County) in excellent fashion by winning their next pair of matches.
Both victories were secured with late goals; Jordan Hugill netted a stoppage-time penalty against Rotherham United, while Mario Vrancic struck against Birmingham City with three minutes to spare to seal a 1-0 triumph.
Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe have made a miserable start to their first ever season in the second-tier. Having lost all of their matches so far, they sit on zero points, and have scored just once.
The Chairboys were defeated by Reading in their most recent match, with Lucas Joao netting the only goal at the Madejski Stadium.
Ones to watch
Throughout the long summer transfer window, attacking midfielder Todd Cantwell was linked with a move away from his home county after impressing in the top-flight last term.
However, as the window is now closed until January, the 22-year-old looks set to play a key role in Norwich’s bid for promotion. He returned to the starting XI against Birmingham and shone alongside Emi Buendia as the Canaries dominated proceedings.
Cantwell will no doubt be eager to strut his stuff against Wycombe, who have the worst defensive record in the division.
Since arriving at Adams Park in 2014, Joe Jacobson has been a vital cog in the Chairboys machine. His influence was there for everyone to see last term as he netted 12 goals (including the winner in the play-off final) to help the club earn promotion to the second-tier.
The task which Wycombe face this weekend is set to be a very difficult one, and the experienced left-back is likely to play a big part.
From a defensive point of view, Jacobson could have his hands full as Max Aarons and Buendia will be keen to combine down Norwich’s right flank. Additionally, the 33-year-old will be looking to cause the Canaries some problems with his attacking set-pieces, which have often proved to be menacing for opposition teams in the past.
These two teams have faced each other on just four different occasions in the past, with the last fixture taking place two years ago in the Carabao Cup. On that late September evening, on-loan striker Jordan Rhodes scored a hat-trick for Norwich at Adams Park as they secured a 4-3 victory over the Chairboys.
This season marks only the second time that the two clubs have been in the same division together. The only campaign when this has previously occurred was 2009/10, and the Canaries did the double over Wycombe during that League One season thanks to a 5-2 win at home and a narrow 1-0 triumph on the road.
Norwich went on to earn promotion back to the Championship after winning the third-tier title, while the Chairboys finished in the bottom three and were therefore relegated to League Two.
How to watch
This game will kick off at 3pm on Saturday October 24 and is not on TV, but it is available to watch on either ‘iFollow Norwich’ or ‘iFollow Wycombe’, with a match pass costing £10.
What the managers have said
Speaking ahead of the game, Norwich head coach Daniel Farke discussed the need for his team to be flexible in terms of how they set up for each fixture.
He said: “I want our values and our principals on the pitch but I am not addicted to base formations. Our structure with the ball and against the ball is not reliable on base formation.
“I think there will be games when we have two strikers on the pitch, there will be games when we have three strikers on the pitch and there will be games when we just have one central striker.
“I am pretty happy that we have many options. It should be good that the opponent has problems in how to prepare for us because we have options and we are flexible. With 4-4-2 it is thought that you are direct and you put balls into the box but we dominated possession [against Birmingham].”
Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth has been very vocal in his praise for his opposite number in the build-up to Saturday’s match.
He stated: “What a fantastic manager Daniel Farke is. A fantastic guy as well. I have big respect for him.
“He does things in the right way. He conducts himself in the media and on the touchline in a fantastic way. I have nothing but the upmost respect for someone who comes to this country and can get a team promoted to the Premier League. It will be great to battle against him and a privilege to go to Carrow Road. This is what it is.
“I want to go there and really make a mark, so I can get my boys to say we really deserve to be here. We have earned the right, we are in the same league as these so let’s have a right go.”