The threat of an immediate return to the Championship looms ever larger over Carrow Road as Norwich host Manchester City looking for their first win since January 2.
The Canaries have been fortunate that their awful league run has not been more heavily punished by their relegation rivals, with Alex Neil’s side now part of a relegation mini-league also containing Aston Villa, Newcastle and Sunderland.
Their current record of one point from nine matches is their worst run since 1946, and the statistics suggest this will not improve this weekend; they have won just two of the previous 15 Premier League matches against Manchester City, conceding 39 goals in the process, and have already lost to the Citizens at Carrow Road this season in the FA Cup.
In addition, the Canaries have lost 10 and won just two of their 16 matches against sides in the top half of the table going into this weekend – it will take a monumental effort from Neil’s men to provide some long-awaited cheer to the Norfolk faithful.
Manchester City travel south with the opportunity to close the gap on leaders Leicester to seven points before the Foxes play on Monday; realistically, anything but a win will end their title challenge for good.
The visitors have been clinical against teams in the bottom half so far this season, gaining 41 points from a possible 45 in those fixtures and conceding just six goals. It wasn’t plain sailing in the reverse fixture against Norwich, however; City needed a late penalty to claim a 2-1 win at the Etihad.
They also have their main man back in the groove; no-one has scored more goals in the Premier League since the turn of the year than Sergio Aguero, with the Argentine’s 2016 tally now at nine in nine games.
Robbie Brady and Steven Naismith are doubtful for the hosts after both were substituted with knocks last weekend. Sebastien Bassong, Andre Wisdom and Alex Tettey are all out – the latter will play no further part this season.
Manchester City will be without Yaya Toure, who has a heel problem, but this game comes too soon for midfield duo Kevin De Bruyne and Samir Nasri, both of whom are on the comeback trail after lengthy spells on the sidelines.
League Position: Norwich – 18th (24 pts); Man City – 4th (50 pts)
Previous Meeting: Norwich 0-3 Man City (FA Cup – January 9, 2016)
Form: Norwich – LLDLLL; Man City – DWLLLW
Key Men: Norwich – Wes Hoolahan; Man City – Sergio Aguero
Shoot Says: Norwich 1-3 Manchester City