For most people, the prospect of a Norwich City vs Manchester United fixture brings back memories of the inaugural Premier League season back in 1992, well before the ‘big’ clubs’ total dominance of the English football landscape sucked much of the joy out of the sport as a spectacle.
Money had yet to taint the game and ruin competitiveness and as crazy as it seems now, a team like Norwich could push United all the way for the title.
Something similar occurring is impossible now, much to the eternal shame of the greedy powers that be. In fact, a team being promoted cannot realistically ask for a more successful season than the one currently being enjoyed by the Canaries, who sit comfortably in the lofty heights of eighth placeon 35 points and are in no peril of relegation whatsoever.
Not that those facts stopped manager Paul Lambert making wholesale changes to his team in last week’s FA Cup defeat to Leicester City (and who said the romance of the cup is dead?), which meant Norwich are coming into one of their biggest matches of the season on the back of a needlessly bad result.
The same can be said for United. What should have been a routine win for the Red Devils against Ajax on Thursday nearly resulted in a humiliating Europa League exit as a much-changed side lost 2-1 at home to the Dutch outfit after a comfortable 2-0 win in Amsterdam a week prior.
Both sides will be back to full strength for a fixture that might be seen as a luxury for Norwich but one of vital significance for United.
Goals are normally guaranteed whenever Norwich are about – there have been 78 in their 25 league fixtures at an average of 3.12 a game, the sixth highest total in the division.
Welbeck has pace and skill and knows where the goal is when the opportunity arises and he is nicely suited to playing away from home, where he is capable of stretching defences.
A high-scoring match (United’s matches have seen 86 goals at an average of 3.44, the second-highest total) is therefore very likely, so a look at the goalscorer markets is interesting.
For me, the favourites are too short to back. Wayne Rooney is understandably the favourite to score first at 7/2 (9/10 any time) but that perhaps isn’t as good a bet as it appears: of Rooney’s 17 Premier League goals, only four of them have been the opener.
Compare that to Javier Hernandez, who has six first goals from his eight league strikes. The Mexican poacher is 4/1 to score first (as he did against Ajax on Thursday) but has tended to be on the bench for league games and will no doubt start there again in Sunday.
Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen are next in the betting (I thought you needed a laugh), and with Nani out of favour and Ashley Young off the boil, I like the look of Danny Welbeck at 5/1 to score first and 13/10 any time.
Welbeck has six league goals to his name but probably should have more and he is a player I really like the look of. He has pace and skill and knows where the goal is when the opportunity arises and he is nicely suited to playing away from home, where he is capable of stretching defences.
Punters receive a free £25 bet for joining bwin.com and placing that on Welbeck to score the opening goal of the goal would offer winnings of £150 if the 21-year-old obliges.
For Norwich, I always think Antony Pilkington is worth backing at 14/1 to score first and a nicely priced 4/1 to net any time.
The former Huddersfield man has an impressive seven goals to his name in his first season in the Premier League, four of which have been the opening strike, and is worth a small play at the prices.
You can read a full betting preview of Norwich v Man Utd here.
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