Freefalling Norwich City host West Ham United in desperate need of points to halt their slide which sees them kick off their weekend in the relegation zone.
Last weekend’s tame 2-0 defeat at bottom club Aston Villa was the Canaries’ fifth consecutive defeat, a run which has shattered any confidence built up by back-to-back wins during the distant festive period.
This run represents a real test for inexperienced boss Alex Neil, who is suffering his first really poor run as Norwich boss having previously achieved great success since taking charge just over a year ago.
Their Achilles heel has been their defence, with 19 goals conceded in their last six games and 48 in total; only Sunderland (49) have conceded more goals than the Canaries this term.
West Ham go into the game on a high having overcome Liverpool in the last minute of extra-time in their FA Cup fourth-round replay on Tuesday evening, with Slaven Bilic’s men now searching for a league win which could put them into the top five should Manchester United slip up against Sunderland.
Carrow Road has been a bogey ground in recent years for the Hammers; they haven’t won there in 16 attempts in all competitions, drawing seven and losing nine. Hammers fans will hope that Dimitri Payet – who has been in inspired form this season and extended his contract earlier this week – can help them end their miserable run in Norfolk.
Fans going to this one should stay until the end, as there has been a last-minute goal in the last four meetings between the two teams!
Alex Tettey completes his two-match ban this weekend, so the midfielder sits this encounter out for Norwich, who are also without defender Andre Wisdom (Knee). Graham Dorrans has recovered from an illness and is in contention.
Tuesday’s cup win came at a cost for West Ham; who saw defenders Winston Reid and Joey O’Brien, plus midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate pick up knocks which will keep them out this weekend.
However boss Bilic can welcome back Alex Song after the Cameroon international’s recovery from his own injury picked up against Liverpool, whilst January addition Sam Byram could start after being cup-tied in midweek.
League Positions: Norwich – 18th (23 pts); West Ham – 6th (39 pts)
Previous Meeting: West Ham 2-2 Norwich – September 26, 2015
League Form: Norwich – WLLLLL; West Ham – WWLDWL
Key Players: Norwich – Steven Naismith; West Ham – Dimitri Payet
Shoot Says: Norwich 1-2 West Ham