Manchester United host Premier League strugglers Norwich City at Old Trafford on Saturday, with Louis van Gaal's side looking to end a winless run of five games in all competitions. The Reds have been hopeless for much of the season and seem to be getting worse, and it wouldn't be at all surprising if they're humiliated at the hands of Alex Neil's Canaries.
Nevertheless, the recent upturn in form of both Bournemouth and Newcastle has left Norwich in serious trouble: heading into the round they're above only Sunderland and Aston Villa in the table, and look set for a long, hard battle against the drop. They've not managed to win away from Carrow Road since a 3-1 victory over Sunderland on the second matchday, and have lost each of their last four matches against United.
United will still be without long-term absentees Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia and Marcos Rojo, while Bastian Schweinsteiger still has a game to go on his three-match suspension. However, we await further news on Matteo Darmian, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling and Wayne Rooney, who are doubts at present.
Norwich only have a couple of players sidelined, and neither are especially crucial: winger Matt Jarvis and defender Andre Wisdom are both injured.
Norwich City won promotion playing open and attractive football, with the fluid movement of their talented attackers bamboozling opposition defences. However, they've so far struggled to adapt to the rigours of the top flight, and currently seem unsure of whether to stick or twist. Neil has sought to tighten his team up, occasionally fielding a three-man defence in the hope of keeping a clean sheet, but it has occasionally come at the cost of the forward play with which they impressed last season. It's a dilemma faced by all newly-promoted sides, and one with which they're still grappling.
On Saturday, we can expect their top priority to sit back and try to keep things tight. There's no reason why Norwich should be scared of this current United side, but it's unlikely that they'll come to Old Trafford and attempt to dominate the game. If they can stop Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Memphis Depay finding any spaces between the lines, United's incredible lack of attacking ingenuity means Louis van Gaal's side could find it difficult to carve a route through to goal.
At the other end of the field, there are a few players United will have to watch. Winger Nathan Redmond has long been tipped as a future England international, and though he's yet to have a breakthrough season in the top flight, he's got the skill and movement to cause full-backs -- especially inexperienced ones -- real trouble. However, the attacking fulcrum of this Norwich team is still Irishman Wes Hoolahan. He may now be 33, but his ability to pick the key pass is as sharp as ever. United will have to watch him carefully, as he's a real threat if he's allowed to receive the ball in space.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1): David de Gea; Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Daley Blind, Paddy McNair, Guillermo Varela; Morgan Schneiderlin, Michael Carrick; Memphis Depay, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard; Anthony Martial.
Norwich City (4-4-1-1): John Ruddy; Martin Olsson, Sébastien Bassong, Ryan Bennett, Steven Whittaker; Robbie Brady, Graham Dorrans, Alexander Tettey, Nathan Redmond; Wes Hoolahan; Lewis Grabban.