Man U vs Norwich City
Venue: Old Trafford
Kick off: 4PM
Manchester United will be looking to return to winning ways when they welcome struggling Norwich City to Old Trafford in the Premier League this afternoon.
The Red Devils are without a victory in their last three matches in all competitions but are still fifth in the Premier League table and will fancy their chances of overcoming the Canaries this weekend.
It has been a case of one step forward, two steps back for United this season, and it is difficult to imagine that pattern of results and performances changing between now and the summer.
Back-to-back victories over Newcastle United and Burnley in their final two Premier League matches of 2019 would have seen the 20-time English champions arrive at Arsenal on New Year’s Day full of confidence.
The performance at the Emirates Stadium was disappointing, though, as they suffered a 2-0 loss.
Since then, they have drawn 0-0 with Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup in addition to suffering a 3-1 defeat to Manchester City in the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final.
The Red Devils were well beaten by Pep Guardiola’s side at Old Trafford and face a huge task to turn the tie around on January 29.
When considering that United have only won eight of their 21 Premier League matches this season, it is a surprise that they are in a top-four race.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are fifth in the table as things stand, though, just five points off fourth-placed Chelsea, who have suffered seven league defeats this term.
United are only four points above 10th-placed Arsenal, though, and could easily slide down the table with a couple of poor results.
It would be a huge surprise if they fail to return to winning ways this weekend but breaking downsides that they are expected to beat has been a real issue.
The Red Devils have only suffered one Premier League defeat at Old Trafford this season, though, and that came back in August against Crystal Palace.
That said, Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Everton have all left the Theatre of Dreams with something to show for their efforts this term.
At the time of writing, no new players have arrived at the club this month despite their injury problems.
The absence of Scott McTominay and Paul Pogba have hurt them badly, while key centre-back Harry Maguire is set for a spell on the sidelines with a hip problem, leaving the team short in defence.
There have been plenty of positives this season, though, with Marcus Rashford enjoying the finest campaign of his career.
The England international has 17 goals in 29 appearances at club level this term and will surely be considered by Norwich to be the home side’s biggest threat this afternoon.
Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial have also been impressive in the final third, but the lack of a provider from the number 10 spot has been a problem, with Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Andreas Pereira all failing to convince in that area of the field during the 2019-20 campaign.
It does appear that Solskjaer will be given time to make his mark regardless of what happens this season but anything other than a victory this weekend would lead to more discontent among the supporters.
Norwich have lost their last two Premier League games against United, including a 3-1 defeat in the reverse match at Carrow Road earlier this season.
That said, the Canaries famously recorded a 2-1 victory when they travelled to Old Trafford during the 2015-16 campaign.
Cameron Jerome and Alexander Tettey scored the goals on that occasion, and it would be some story if the visitors could find a way of picking up all three points this afternoon.
Daniel Farke’s side have only won three Premier League matches all season, though, collecting just 14 points in total to leave themselves bottom of the table heading into the next set of fixtures.
Worryingly, they are now five points off 19th-placed Watford and sit seven points from Aston Villa in 17th.
As it stands, last season’s Championship winners are the favourite to finish bottom of the pile, particularly when considering that they have not been victorious in the league since beating Everton on November 23.
Norwich have overcome Manchester City this season, though, in addition to holding both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
All three of those results came at Carrow Road, however, and their away form has been disappointing.
The Canaries will enter this match off the back of successive league draws with Tottenham and Crystal Palace, though, while they also recorded an impressive 4-2 victory over Preston North End in the FA Cup last Saturday.
Farke’s side will not be the favourites to triumph this weekend, but they have a huge game at home to fellow strugglers Bournemouth on January 18 and sooner or later wins will have to arrive.
The basement side is sweating on leading scorer Teemu Pukki’s fitness ahead of the clash at Old Trafford, meanwhile, and whether the in-form striker is available is likely to have a huge impact on the team’s confidence.
Man U possible XI: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Jones, Williams, Matic, Fred, James, Pereira, Rashford, Martial.
Norwich City possible XI: Krul, Aarons, Zimmermann, Hanley, Byram, Vrancic, Tettey, Buendia, McLean, Cantwell, Idah.