Celtic last faced Norwich City on May 22nd, just a few short days after their respective domestic seasons had finished, but in the eight weeks that have passed since Adam Drury’s testimonial match at Carrow Road, the two clubs have had to deal with their fair share of upheaval.
Since that meeting, which Norwich won 2-0, the goalposts have changed for both clubs. Overseeing that victory for the Canaries was Paul Lambert, who was soon jumping ship to Aston Villa, leaving Norwich without the manager who had dragged the club from League One to a mid-table Premier League finish on a relatively shoe-string budget.
If Lambert’s defection to the Midlands could be predicted (he is, after all, ruthlessly ambitious), then what has happened with Celtic was much harder to predict.
Or more accurately, what has happened to their bitter rivals Rangers, whose financial meltdown and subsequent demotion to the bottom tier of Scottish football has left the SPL in a perilous state, with Celtic certain to benefit on the pitch (they will win the title at a canter), but facing an uncertain financial future given the reliance on the Old Firm rivalry for TV deals and sponsorship.
It makes pre-season a strange one for Celtic and an unfamiliar one for Norwich, whose new boss Chris Hughton is looking to stamp his authority on his third club in as many years after doing sterling work with both Newcastle United and Birmingham City.
Hughton and Norwich seem like a good fit – the former Tottenham defender has proved himself an astute, dignified man with traditional football values – but he will no doubt be wary of the ‘second season syndrome’ that many promoted teams have suffered from and as such, he will be hoping to find out about his new charges as quickly as possible.
His next chance to do just that is at Celtic Park on Tuesday, when Norwich meet Celtic for the second time in as many months. The bookies can’t split them, with both sides 3/2 to gain a morale-boosting win, with the draw at 17/20.
In other words, backing one of these two teams to triumph with your free £20 bet for registering with bwin will return £50 if you correctly predict the winner.
Both teams are coming into this game on the back of high-scoring defeats at the weekend. Hughton’s first match in charge of Norwich was a 3-2 reverse against Hertha Berlin at the end of a week-long training camp in Austria, whereas Neil Lennon’s men reverted to type with a heavy 4-0 defeat away at Ajax: even in friendlies, Celtic’s record away from home around Europe is abysmal.
Back on home turf they are normally a much more potent force, even in Europe, and Lennon will expect a quick improvement with a Champions League third-round qualifier against HJK Helsinki on the horizon next week.
This is Celtic’s penultimate match before their vital first leg and with four friendlies already behind them, you would expect them to be fitter and stronger than the Norwich players, who have only had a 45-minute run-out so far this summer.
And with the need for Celtic to get their game faces on in time for next week, the 3/2 on them beating an undercooked Canaries is the safest bet here.
Recommended bet: Celtic to beat Norwich @ 3/2
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