Norwich were unlucky not to get at least a point out of their encounter with Manchester United at Old Trafford earlier this season but they are unlikely to push the defending champions quite so close when the two teams meet again at Carrow Road on Sunday.
The Canaries might be third in the form table based on the last six games and an impressive eighth in the Premier League standings but they are taking on a United team in far better form now than they were back in October.
True, United were actually unbeaten when they faced Norwich at Old Trafford, but a 1-1 draw with Stoke and a 3-3 draw with Basel in their two previous matches hinted at a soft underbelly which was soon to be ruthlessly exposed by Manchester City.
All of Norwich’s last five goals have all been scored after half time.
Exit at the group stage of the Champions League confirmed this is not one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s vintage sides but and another wobble in the Premier League at the turn of the year cast further doubt over their title credentials.
But since a 3-0 defeat to Newcastle on January 4th United have once again started to look the part, with an unfortunate defeat away to Liverpool in the FA Cup and a 3-3 draw with Chelsea their only blemishes in an eight match sequence leading up to last night’s defeat to Ajax, which featured a particularly youthful side.
Although Norwich can boast an impressive five wins and their own draw against Chelsea in their last eight matches, the calibre of opposition they have faced means not too much should be read into this ahead of a game against the Red Devils.
Taking nothing away from Paul Lambert’s side, who deserve all the plaudits they can get, but beating Burnley, West Brom (twice), Bolton and Swansea is not quite the same as taking the scalp of the English football’s most successful team.
And while a draw against Chelsea is commendable, the Blues were – as they are now – struggling for form.
As such, even with home advantage it seems unlikely that Norwich will be able to go one better than they did at Old Trafford and actually come out of the game with anything more than a huge amount of credit.
Indeed, United’s form suggests they should be able to ease to victory without too much cause for concern.
This is reflected in odds of 1/2 for an away win in bwin’s 3Way football betting market, with the draw at 31/10 and a Norwich success at 21/4.
But even if United stroll to an easy victory, there could still be a parallel with the game at Old Trafford.
United scored their two goals in the second half and it could be that there are more goals after the break than there are in the first 45 minutes again at Carrow Road on Sunday.
The reason for this is that, before last night’s game against Ajax, United had scored 11 of their last 15 goals after the interval across a seven game sequence.
This suggests that odds of 13/10 on United scoring more in the second half than they do in the first are worth taking advantage of, with a £25 free bet on this outcome set to return £57.50.
And given all of Norwich’s last five goals have all been scored after half time, a bet on the two teams’ combined goals total to be greater after the interval than it is before the break looks an even safer option at 11/10, albeit one that offers less in the way of returns.
Of course, all this ignores the fact that Norwich beat Man United they last time they visited Carrow Road thanks to goals for Dean Ashton and Leon McKenzie.
But don’t expect lightening to strike twice – unless you’re talking about the fact that both of those goals came after Ferguson and Nigel Worthington had delivered their half time team talks.
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