Promotion-chasing Norwich City will be looking to end a four-game winless run when they take on Stoke City at Carrow Road on Saturday afternoon.
The Canaries were knocked off the top of the Championship table earlier this week following Brentford’s victory at Reading, but the Norfolk club will regain top spot – temporarily at least – if they can overcome the Potters.
Having served his two-match suspension, Emi Buendia is likely to return to Norwich’s squad for the visit of Stoke. Additionally, Onel Hernandez, Kieran Dowell and Adam Idah could all be in a position to start for the Canaries as they look to be more clinical in front of goal.
It was announced in Friday’s press conference that Jordan Hugill and Marco Stiepermann are not far away from a return to full fitness, but neither player will feature for Norwich in this game. Orjan Nyland, Sam Byram and Michael McGovern are also still out injured.
Stoke’s Nick Powell is set to return to the squad this weekend after missing the last two matches with a hamstring problem. Centre-back James Chester is also available again having recovered from a minor injury which saw him miss the Potters’ 0-0 draw with Reading.
Rhys Norrington-Davies is unavailable for selection as he is still suspended following his red card against Huddersfield Town, while striker Tyrese Campbell remains sidelined with a knee injury.
Norwich: Krul; Aarons, Hanley, Gibson, Giannoulis; Skipp, McLean; Buendia, Dowell, Hernandez; Pukki.
Stoke: Gunn; Collins, Souttar, Chester, Fox; Allen; Mikel, Clucas; Clarke, Fletcher, Powell.
Norwich were beaten 2-0 by fellow promotion candidates Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium last Friday; a result which saw the Swans move to within two points of Daniel Farke’s side. The Canaries have failed to win any of their last four games in all competitions, having not scored a single goal since defeating Bristol City on January 20.
Also in great need of a victory are Stoke, who are yet to win in 2021. The Staffordshire club last collected all three points on December 19, but they have only lost two league games since then, with plenty of draws racked up in recent weeks. The Potters currently sit in ninth position and are only six points behind sixth-placed Bournemouth.
Ones to watch
The return of playmaker Buendia following his two-game suspension will be welcomed by Norwich ahead of this fixture. The Argentine is the Canaries’ key creative outlet and he was greatly missed at Swansea, where Norwich failed to trouble home goalkeeper Freddie Woodman.
Buendia was heavily involved in the match between these two sides back in November, as he scored a goal and provided an assist before being sent off in the second half for a second bookable offence. Norwich will hope that the 24-year-old can produce a similar performance this time around, but without the red card.
Saturday’s clash will hold extra significance for Stoke goalkeeper Angus Gunn, who is connected to the Canaries in many ways. Born in Norwich, the 25-year-old is the son of Norwich legend Bryan Gunn, who made almost 500 appearances for the club between 1986 and 1998, before going on to manage the side in 2009.
Gunn Jr came through the Canaries’ academy as a youngster before joining Manchester City, but he re-signed for Norwich on loan at the start of the 2017/18 season and played under Farke as the team finished 14th in the second-tier. The England under-21 international has never played against his hometown club in a professional match before, so this weekend will be meaningful for him and his family.
When these two sides met at the bet365 Stadium back in November, 10-man Norwich ran out 3-2 victors following an eventful encounter. The Canaries led by three goals at one stage in the game, but late strikes from Tyrese Campbell and Nathan Collins made for a tense conclusion.
This weekend, Norwich will be aiming to secure their first home victory over the Potters since November 2012. Both teams were in the Premier League at the time, and Bradley Johnson scored the only goal of the match with a header.
How to watch
This game will kick off at 3pm on Saturday February 13 and is not on TV, but it is available to watch on either ‘iFollow Norwich’ or ‘Stoke City+ Live’, with a match pass costing £10.
What the managers have said
Speaking ahead of the game, Norwich head coach Farke insisted that his team are solely focused on winning their own matches, rather than worrying about the results of their promotion rivals.
He said: “It's not important where we are after 25 or 28 games. It's important where you are after 46 games.
“We like to lead from the front. There's no additional pressure of being at the top. Every game is difficult, I watched Barnsley v Chelsea last night and Barnsley could have won. In this league, you can't plan to win the title. We want to finish in the top six, we were clear with this. We are 15 points clear of seventh.
“I'd still rather us lead from the front. But we are not concerned. Just one thing counts, we know we need to get 80 points to finish in the top six, and then we'll be greedy to reach 90 points to finish in the top two.”
Meanwhile, Stoke boss Martin O’Neill has said that he expects a difficult match against the Canaries, even though the Norfolk club have looked out of sorts in recent weeks.
“I think it’ll be as tough as ever to be honest,” O’Neill stated. “Norwich have had a great season. Obviously they would have been one of the favourites to go back up again and they’ve been up at the top for a long time.
“I think you’re always going to have a dip, particularly in this league, but two draws and a defeat isn’t a huge dip.
“They’ll be keen to get back to winning ways so it won’t make the task any easier for us. For me, when I look at the teams we’ve played this season, we’ve not played a team which is better than Norwich.”