In what looks something of a mismatch, Tim Lesnik is arguing the case for Norwich against Manchester United in Shouting the Odds. Nathan Staples is taking the side of the Red Devils, with Chris Bryant asking the questions.
CB: OK then Tim, start us off. Do Norwich have a chance of winning this game?
TL – Well it’s certainly going to be difficult as odds of 15/1 show, but I’m far more optimistic about Norwich’s chances now than I was two weeks ago. Since then, Norwich have come into a bit of form – two wins in a row isn’t bad by anyone’s standards – and United’s mask of invincibility has started to slip. The fact Basel almost beat them in midweek suggests the Red Devils are vulnerable, and Stoke were also pretty close to an upset last week. Can Norwich really beat United at Old Trafford, where Fergie’s men haven’t lost since a defeat to Chelsea in April 2010? No. But it will be closer than people think, and the Canaries can still win in the handicap market, where odds of 8/5 are available on Paul Lambert’s men to secure victory with a two-goal head start.
CB – How about you Nathan? Do you see it being so close? Your side are on good goalscoring form…
NS – While we have drawn our last two games in all competitions, United haven’t lost all season so far. The last time United were defeated at home was back in April last year, while the last draw in the Premier League was a year ago. At 3/20, United are clear favourites to take three points against Norwich, and rightfully so. And with 22 goals scored in their first six league matches, United should win by at least two goals – making Tim’s bet a bit optimistic, even for a die-hard Norwich fan.
CB – That’s what I like to see. A disagreement after the first question. So what do you see the final score being?
NS – Some may argue that Man United tend to do poorly against promoted sides, but Norwich look weak at the back. They haven’t managed to keep a single clean sheet so far this season, and it seems like an age since United failed to score at Old Trafford. They will give us a good game, but for us to win 2-0 at 23/4 I feel that is too good an option to turn down.
TL – Norwich aren’t the only ones weak at the back. Eighty-five shots have been aimed at United’s goals in their six league games so far, which is more than any other team have faced. Norwich have scored twice in their last two matches and scored at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, so they’ll fancy their chances. I’m going for 2-1 to United at 35/4 – which is consistent with my tip for Norwich to win with a two-goal head start.
CB – and where are the goals coming from?
NS – With both Rooney and Hernandez doubtful for the game, it will be up to Danny Welbeck to get the goals for United this weekend. With him scoring twice in midweek, and in good form before his injury, I think at odds of 9/2 are a steal for him to get the first goal against the newly promoted side.
TL – Steve Morison has taken over from Grant Holt as Norwich’s main striker in recent weeks and paid back Norwich manager Paul Lambert with a goal against Sunderland on Monday, out-leaping the Sunderland defence and powering home a Marc Tierney cross. United struggled to deal with crosses into the box against Stoke – with former Canary Peter Crouch causing mayhem – and Norwich are likely to adopt similar tactics. Morison will therefore fancy his chances, and the Welshman is priced at 9/2 to score.
CB – is there any value to be found elsewhere?
NS – United have scored 14 goals at the Theatre of Dreams this season, with six coming in the first half and eight finding the net in the second. With Norwich susceptible at the back and United wanting a win before the international break, you’ll find 11/20 a great price for them to grab goals either side of the half time oranges.
TL – If games ended at half time, Norwich would be third in the league this season but would be second-bottom if only the second period counted for anything. This is a huge surprise seeing how good they were late on in the Championship in the last campaign, but don’t worry about that and back Norwich to score more goals in the first half than they do in the second at 15/4.
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