FootballPremier League

Norwich vs. Man City betting preview: League leaders will have too much for resurgent Canaries

February 10, 2022June 10th, 2022

When Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City machine is in pristine working order it can be dauntingly relentless, writes Stephen Tudor.

Last season, the Blues went unbeaten for 17 Premier League games, dropping only four points along the way. Two years earlier they racked up 14 back-to-back victories on the home straight to snatch the title from Liverpool’s grasp, and the season before that they annihilated all before them right through until mid-January, accumulating 62 points from a possible 66. Close to a sure thing soccer betting.

And it’s happening again. Since losing unexpectedly on home turf to Crystal Palace at the tail-end of October, City have won 40 points from 42. That’s 14 games unbeaten, with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United dispensed with and eight clean sheets kept on route.

Play three at the back against them and it plays directly into their hands. Play 4-5-1 and seek to smother space and time and they will pass, pass, pass until mistakes are made or weariness inevitably sets in. Set up open as Leeds did and suffer the awful consequences.

So where might this run eventually end? The previous three demonstrations of their dominance offer up scant clues. One ended via a derby loss, one was at Anfield, while the third came to a halt by virtue of there being no more worlds to conquer.

All of which suggests it would be lunacy to back Norwich to prevail this Saturday at Carrow Road. After all, this is a side haunted all season long by the probability of going down, a side that has shipped in an average of two goals per game while failing to get on the scoresheet in 60% of their fixtures to date. This is a team whose record this season against the present top six stands at seven straight losses with an aggregate scoreline of 0-24. City are going to have a field day aren’t they?

Yes, that will likely be the case. Yet the Canaries appear to be turning their miserable campaign around, not spectacularly but certainly there’s been enough evidence of improvement in recent weeks to warrant a positive paragraph at this juncture.

They are unbeaten in four across all competitions and though Dean Smith has not undertaken any dramatic changes to bring about this mini-recovery, his predecessor Daniel Farke will no doubt be regretting not starting Billy Gilmour and Adam Idah more regularly because both have impressed. Striker Teemu Pukki meanwhile may only have notched six times this term but the Finnish international has capitalized commendably on the slim number of chances he’s had. Get the ball to him with Ederson in his sights and Norwich might be in business.

Furthermore, City haven’t won in East Anglia in their last three visits. Granted, that sound you hear is a barrel being scraped but still, it’s something.

If Norwich’s decent form inspires some confidence there is value to be found in +180 for the league leaders to win but both teams score.

Now for the reality check. Norwich nearly doubling their season’s tally of points in the space of three games is praiseworthy for sure but it simply cannot be sustained. In their victories over Everton and Watford and in drawing with Crystal Palace on Wednesday evening, Smith’s men scored six times. Across those trio of matches they had six shots on target and such accuracy is an extreme outlier, especially considering that Norwich have converted only 4.5% of their chances in 2021/22, a league low.

More so, Pukki’s early opener against Palace ensured he has been responsible for 42.9% of his side’s goals this term and no other club has been so reliant on an individual. It is a figure that damns players who otherwise have had solid campaigns, players like winger Milot Rashica and attacking midfielder Pierre Lees-Melou, who have each made 17 appearances in the league without finding the net.

Indeed, Norwich have only had six different goalscorers in 2021/22 – again, a league low – and staggeringly between them, their defence and midfield have contributed just three. By way of comparison, Manchester City’s backline and engine-room have helped their front three out with 35.

One of City’s front three absolutely doesn’t need any assistance at present. Riyad Mahrez has scored eight in his last seven outings and has been directly involved in 11 league goals in 17.

Soccer is a results business, that’s what we’re repeatedly told, typically in a rueful fashion by managers under pressure. But all of the above illustrates that results should only be a factor when determining what potentially lies ahead. And what very possibly lies ahead is another three points for Pep Guardiola’s relentless and ruthless creation while the hosts revert to their mean.

 

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