Norwich City - Newcastle Pre-Match Analysis: Neither Side Can Afford To Lose

The Canaries host the Magpies in a huge clash at Carrow Road this weekend. Both sides are desperate for points in this year's race to avoid the drop.

Norwich City - Newcastle Pre-Match Analysis: Neither Side Can Afford To Lose
Georginio Wijnaldum scored four last time the two sides met, in a 6-2 win for Newcastle. (Photo: TSM Plug)

The big games in this year's relegation scrap just keep on coming, and this weekend sees Norwich City host Newcastle United in another huge clash at the bottom of the Premier League table.

Norwich currently sit out of the bottom three in 17th place, three points and two places ahead of their opponents this weekend, although the Magpies do have a game in hand.

A win for Norwich this weekend could all but condemn Newcastle to relegation, who themselves will be hoping that they can pick up their first win under Rafa Benitez.

Norwich and Newcastle will both be hoping to build on their points gained in the previous round of Premier League fixtures. Norwich fought hard to edge a 1-0 win away at West Bromwich Albion, whereas Newcastle finally ended their streak of consecutive derby losses as they fought back to draw 1-1 with Sunderland.

Norwich will also no doubt be eager to get revenge over Newcastle, who romped to a 6-2 thrashing of the Canaries back in October in the sides' last encounter.

Since last time out

Both teams have not played in a fortnight due to the international break, which in itself provided a very mixed bag for Norwich and Newcastle. Norwich's Wes Hoolahan and Martin Olsson put in man of the match performances for their countries during the week, whereas Newcastle's Rob Elliot suffered a horrible blow as he picked up a knee injury which will rule him out for the rest of the season, as well as the Euros this summer.

Newcastle's Rob Elliot will miss the rest of the season after picking up a knee injury for Ireland on Tuesday night (Getty)
Newcastle's Rob Elliot will miss the rest of the season after picking up a knee injury for Ireland on Tuesday night (Getty)

With Tim Krul also sidelined until the end of the campaign (with an injury he also picked up on international duty earlier in the season), Karl Darlow is set to step in for Newcastle. The former Nottingham Forest stopper has only made one Premier League appearance so far, but has the full backing of his teammates and his manager to thrive in the absence of Elliot and Krul.

Elsewhere for Newcastle, Jack Colback will miss the game through suspension, and captain Fabricio Coloccini has not yet shaken off a calf injury, but may be back for Newcastle's clash with Southampton. But on the plus side, Newcastle's Dutch defender, Daryl Janmaat, is fit after overcoming an injury that saw him withdraw from the Netherlands' squad for their friendlies with France and England.

As for Alex Neil's men, they are set to make a late decision on the fitness of Nathan Redmond, who is nearing a return from an ankle problem. Ryan Bennett and Steven Naismith are available but Alex Tettey is still injured.

Key men

Whichever side comes out on top will need something special from their strikers. Dieumerci Mbokani and Aleksandar Mitrovic could both prove vital come 5pm on Saturday afternoon. Both of the strikers were on the scoresheet in the reverse fixture at St. James' Park this season, and both will be hopeful of doing the same this time around.

Newcastle have only scored seven goals away from home this season, one of the poorest records across all of the major leagues of English football, and will need Mitrovic to find his shooting boots at Carrow Road if Newcastle are to take home any points. The Serbian striker has been criticised for failing to take many of his chances throughout the season, but will be on the back of a huge confidence boost after his equaliser in the Tyne-Wear derby two weeks ago.

Norwich will also need to be clinical against the Magpies. Rafa Benitez's side have looked far tighter in defence since the Spaniard's arrival, and after having a full fortnight to work with his defence on the training pitch, we can expect Newcastle to frustrate Norwich's attack greatly. The return of Chancel Mbemba for Newcastle will also come as a big bonus.

Norwich's victory over West Brom came through Robbie Brady converting the game's only shot on target, from either side, and there is likely to be a similar shortage of shots in what is expected to be a very tense and cagey affair.