WalesOnline: Norwich City Scout Report

Part of weekly features for WalesOnline

Cardiff City made it three home wins on the bounce in an impressive 2-0 victory over Preston on Tuesday night.

City’s victory was their fourth in six games in the league, with the two defeats coming against teams who are currently in the top three.

Progress is evidently being made, and the Bluebirds will be keen to continue this development and make it a fourth home win on the spin when promotion chasing Norwich City come to town.

It won’t be easy, however, as Norwich are beginning to gain some momentum with consecutive wins against Wolves and Birmingham.

Here’s what you need to know about Saturday’s opponents.

STYLE OF PLAY

Norwich arrive at the Cardiff City Stadium boasting one of the most potent attacks in the league; with 47 goals this season, only a highly- talented Newcastle squad have scored more.

Alex Neil’s men will not be content to sit back and let City come to then, rather, they will take the game to the Bluebirds. With many strings to the Norwich bow, the visitors will exhaust all possible avenues in attempting to find a way past Cardiff keeper Allan McGregor.

DANGER MEN

Cameron Jerome

Jerome is the Canaries’ top scorer this season, finding the net eight times. The former Bluebird, as many will know, has the enviable quality of scoring against his old club.

Jerome had lost his place until recently, having failed to score in 11 consecutive games. However, the 30-year-old has two goals in his last three matches.

Wes Hoolahan

Wes Hoolahan

Norwich will turn to Irish attacking midfielder Wes Hoolahan to dictate the game and carve out chances. Hoolahan, now aged 34, lacks pace but is wonderfully adept at initiating attacks and creating a rhythm for his team.

With an eye for the sublime, Hoolahan’s craft and beguilement will have to be stunted by City’s defensive midfielders.

MANAGER

Alex Neil, aged 35, is an example of the vogue trend to bring in fresh-faced, energetic and progressive thinkers of the game.

Neil took over at Norwich in January 2015 after an impressive spell in Scotland with Hamilton Academicals and instantly led the team to the Premier League via the play-offs, only to face relegation a year later.

Yet, Norwich, opting for sensible decision-making, refused to sack Neil and have continued their faith in his management; learning from the successful and patient methods of Burnley and Sean Dyche, Norwich are hoping that this element of continuity will prove fruitful.

Norwich City manager Alex Neil

WEAKNESSES

Cardiff should be confident, though. At home, City are a match for any team in the Championship and there are fault lines within Norwich’s play that can be exposed.

Countering against Norwich’s attacking exploits is their dismal defensive record, having conceded 40 goals, just three less than Cardiff. This is perhaps the main reason why they sit ninth in the table and are scrapping for a play-off place, rather than fighting for automatic promotion.

City’s attacking play appears to clicking. Kenneth Zohore is showing signs of quality on a consistent basis, as his aerial presence complements the style Warnock has looked to implement.

Zohore’s magical solo effort against Preston, whilst a product of great individual skill, was the fruit of a quick and direct pass from Peter Whittingham, who looked to spark a counter-attack. Cardiff’s forwards should take advantage of Norwich’s often naive offensive play and mirror the speedy counter-attacks they executed against Preston.

Another symptom of Norwich’s tendency to push players forward is that their full-backs are frequently caught in compromising positions.

Consequently, the majority of goals that they concede are a result of opposition wingers running into the abdicated space and feeding their on-rushing strikers through crosses. Junior Hoilett was in fine form on Tuesday night and Warnock will be hoping he can replicate such success on the wing once more.

Neil’s men are also guilty of throwing away leads; the visitors allowing complacency to creep into their game, ultimately costing them. Such was displayed in emphatic fashion when Newcastle United came from 3-1 down to win 4-3 earlier on in the season. If Cardiff should go behind, they should take confidence from this apparent psychological weakness in defending a lead.

PREDICTION

The last three meetings between these teams have produced a minimum of five goals per game so the Bluebirds’ faithful could be in for another high-scoring treat when they take their seats in the Cardiff City Stadium.

However, under Warnock, Cardiff seldom concede more than two and possess the defensive astuteness to cause a shut-out for a Norwich attack who have only failed to score on four separate occasions this season.

Confidence and belief are flowing through a Cardiff team invigorated under Warnock – don’t be surprised if City make it a fourth straight home win.

We’ll go with a 2-1 victory for Cardiff.

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