Pre-Match Analysis: Newcastle United vs Norwich City
(Credit: Serena Taylor)

A fresh start with brand new opportunities and branches of hope as Smith continues a positive mentality.

As for Newcastle, Eddie Howe takes set for only his second game in charge of Newcastle United on Tuesday night, COVID ridden against Brentford, meaning that he was unable to attend what should had been his first game in charge at the 52,000-seater St. James’ Park.

Howe's illness means that the visit of Norwich City will be the first opportunity for local fans to witness the new manager of Newcastle.

Norwich City

The Canaries are in inspired form after the change at the helm of the club.

Out with the old and in with the new as Smith prepares for his third game in charge at the club, after securing a narrow 2-1 victory against Southampton and a goalless draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Building from a vital run of form, Norwich have a chance to draw level on points with Leeds United if they are able to come away with all three points from the North East.

In a look at how Smith has organised his side, the former Aston Villa manager has reverted to the widely popular 4-2-3-1 formation (with the midfield shape altering, depending on the situation during the game).

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In turn, trust has remained with Matthias Normann to control the tempo of the game, as the Norwegian sits in front of the two central defenders, with Billy Gilmour making a return to the starting XI to accompany fellow Scotland international and fan favourite Kenny McLean in the centre of midfield.

A player who failed to make an appearance against Wolves but did return for the inauguration fixture for Smith is locally sourced, Todd Cantwell.

The hotly-tipped attacker had previously been side-lined by former boss Daniel Farke, but with a new manager in town, the Norfolk-born star has been in the matchday squad for both of the matches under Smith.

Despite only featuring on the bench at the weekend, an opportunity may arise to make a difference in North Tyneside having been rested at Carrow Road.

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Where has Smith made the difference?

Judging from the first two fixtures under the new manager, Norwich are much more confident in attack.

Against Wolves, only quality in front of goal prevented the Norfolk club from securing all three points.

After having 14 shots on goal, Jose Sa came away with a comfortable clean sheet without truly being tested.

A story of Norwich’s season, with goals difficult to come by, but significant progress has been made to give fans and pundits belief that a survival campaign could be on the cards.

Defensively, The Canaries managed to keep Wolves at bay for large parts, allowing the visitors at the weekend with only five shots all game, with only two of those testing Tim Krul in the Norwich net.

Showcasing an overall improvement in a remarkably short period of time, the visit to Newcastle will, without doubt, test the club’s challenge to avoid the drop, with a win providing a true statement of intent whilst only adding to the woe’s of Howe’s Newcastle.

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Newcastle United

Sitting bottom of the table, Newcastle United will be hoping for a chance of redemption as they face a relegation six-pointer against Norwich.

Like The Canaries, Newcastle have also ushered in a new coach to support their survival hopes, with Eddie Howe replacing Steve Bruce as the commander-in-chief.

In Howe and Smith, both coaches have experience in guiding former clubs away from the dropzone, with both their challenges this season much more intense given the situations that both clubs currently face.

The newly Saudi-invested Magpies will be praying for all three points in this game as they have gone rather under the radar in failing to win a single game in the Premier League this season

Despite this appalling record, Newcastle sit three points below Norwich and Burnley in the relegation zone, with a win drawing the club back on level terms (albeit that Sean Dyche’s Burnley have a game in hand).

The key piece of team news for this game is that Matt Ritchie and Jamaal Lascelles will both be unavailable for this clash, due to suspension after picking up their fifth yellow cards against Arsenal at the weekend.

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Newcastle’s Key Men?

Allan Saint-Maximin will be the main attacking outlet for Howe against Norwich.

The French winger has the most dribbles-per-game of any player in the Premier League and will look to cause havoc for both Max Aarons and Brandon Williams down both flanks.

The creativity of Saint-Maximin could open the door for prolific striker Callum Wilson to capitalise against an insecure Norwich.

Despite the recent performances, The Canaries have had a leaky defensive record this season, only worsened by Newcastle.

As a result, fans will be looking to Callum Wilson, or club-record signing Joelinton, to provide a bit of light in the North East.

Wilson, who joined the club from Bournemouth, previously had a flourishing relationship with new manager Eddie Howe down at the South Coast club.

In his six-year spell at the club, Wilson scored 67 goals in 187 appearances, helping Howe secure promotion to the Premier League, whilst enjoying a five-year period in England’s top flight with the manager that his now reignited with.

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Former Canaries could be on display for Eddie Howe as left back Jacob Murphy is in contention of replacing the suspended Ritchie for this clash.

The 26-year-old has played 11 times for the club this season, scoring and assisting once this season. 

As for Jamal Lewis, who left Norwich for the North East last summer for £15 million - the Northern Irish wing-back has only featured once for the club this season.

With the hope that a new manager could provide more opportunities in a black & white shirt, Lewis could feature against his former side but remains a doubt given that his only appearance for Newcastle came as a late substitute against Manchester United in early September. 

Last Five Meetings

The recent competitive meetings have been relatively even with Norwich winning on two occasions, Newcastle stealing one win for themselves last in 2016, with the other two ending in stalemates.

Most recently, Newcastle stole the bragging rights in a pre-season friendly that ended in a 3-0 win at St. James’ Park – a game in which Dwight Gayle scored a brace with Matt Richie also being able to contribute to the goal tally.

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Saturday 1st February 2020: Newcastle United 0-0 Norwich City

Saturday 17th August 2019: Norwich City 3-1 Newcastle United

Tuesday 14th February 2017: Norwich City 2-2 Newcastle United

Wednesday 28th September 2016: Newcastle United 4-3 Norwich City

Saturday 2nd April 2016: Norwich City 3-2 Newcastle United

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