Norwich City v Blackburn Rovers
It is 4th vs 3rd in the Championship on Saturday evening and, despite those relatively lofty league positions, both sets of supporters appear to be somewhat disgruntled by their managers and teams.
However, when one observes the performances of the clubs it is fairly clear that, in general, one has performed better than the other. Over the course of the season Norwich’s underlying numbers support their position near the top of the league. Of course, the question is then of expectation. The Canaries’ fans probably expect a higher level of domination in a league in which they have won in two of the last four seasons.
Just because there is that feeling of slight underwhelm from the fans doesn’t mean that the team can’t be supported financially in this scenario though. Having struck very early in their last match away at Swansea, the Norwich defence stood up fairly well for the subsequent 90 minutes against a good footballing side. That clean sheet will give them some confidence, especially now facing a team that has really struggled to create chances away from home.
Blackburn seem to have been worked out by their opponents, or at least Burnley and Preston. No doubt Dean Smith and his analysts would’ve seen how much Blackburn have struggled when put under pressure high up. Jon Dahl Tomasson will not change his principles though and it is up to the coaches, and probably the recruitment staff, to bring improvement in this style of play.
The underlying numbers support this. Blackburn have massively out-performed their xG both in chance creation and in defence. Part of this is down to the quality of players in those positions, Ben Brereton Diaz and Thomas Kaminski are among the division’s best, but there’s only so long that you can keep picking up results when not performing well. Blackburn will need to change that if they are to maintain a play-off challenge.
Meanwhile Norwich continue to frustrate, despite clearly having a very talented squad for the level. The pattern of the match means that they may not be tested too much defensively, but Teemu Pukki, Josh Sargent & co. will have to break down the Rovers defence. In their last two matches at Carrow Road before the break they struggled to do this, but still created enough chances that on another day they should tuck more of those chances away.
Norwich are fancied to win the game, but also to do so keeping a clean sheet. Blackburn have failed to register a goal in 7 of their 11 away matches and managed only a single shot at Turf Moor. Gaining territory in the opponent’s half has been a real problem for Rovers and there is little reason to suspect that this will change at Carrow Road, an example of this is the fact that the last time that Blackburn managed to register 5 or more corners in an away match was way back in August at Bloomfield Road.
Having struck very early in their last match away at Swansea, the Norwich defence stood up fairly well for the subsequent 90 minutes against a good footballing side. That clean sheet will give them some confidence, especially now facing a team that has really struggled to create chances away from home.
Despite not having a fully fit Andrew Omobamidele back in the defence, Ben Gibson is obviously a highly experienced and reliable replacement. Using Sam McCallum with Max Aarons means that there is a lot of EFL games in the back four as well as the experience of Isaac Hayden and Kenny McLean in front of them. Though Blackburn will try to bypass them on the counter-attack to expose the lack of pace in the centre of defence, I would back Norwich to retain defensive shape effectively.
The last time that Blackburn managed to register 5 or more corners in an away match was way back in August at Bloomfield Road. Gaining territory in the opponent’s half has been a real problem for Rovers and there is little reason to suspect that this will change at Carrow Road.
To add some more value to the bet builder though it is time to delve into the shot market where there is an excellent price about Grant Hanley to take a shot.
The Norwich captain was a Blackburn youth product and captained Blackburn before his move to Norfolk. His threat from set pieces saw him score goals fairly regularly for Rovers, including one at Old Trafford, and indeed, the Scotsman has had 16 shots this season already in 20 matches, though only one goal. Blackburn are usually a good defensive team in set piece situations and may deny Hanley any easy efforts, but this bet only requires a shot to be attempted, not on target.
In a game in which it seems highly likely that Norwich will dominate territory it therefore also seems likely that they will win their fair share of corners and attacking free kicks. Hanley is likely to be the primary target for these, especially when observing that regular partner Andrew Omobamidele has had only two shots in total this season. Add Hanley for one shot to the bet builder and it may be worth considering a single of two shots from Hanley as a separate bet.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
18+ please gamble responsibly.
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