Rangnick has overseen a win against Crystal Palace and an inconsequential draw in the Champions League dead-rubber against Young Boys so far. The interim confirmed earlier on Friday that Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Nemanja Matic could be doubts for the game and neither were pictured arriving at the airport, although they could have used a different car park. Wan-Bissaka received injuries to his leg and wrist on Wednesday night while Matic has been feeling unwell this week, although he has not tested positive for Covid-19.
Norwich looked down and out in the Premier League at the end of October, but the Canaries beat Brentford and Southampton in back-to-back matches either side of the November international break before picking up points in draws with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Newcastle United.
Dean Smith’s side lost 3-0 at Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, though, which saw them return to the bottom of the table, boasting just 10 points from their opening 15 matches of the campaign.
The picture is a lot brighter for the promoted club, though, as they are only three points behind 17th-placed Watford and have shown a fighting spirit since Smith’s arrival as head coach.
Norwich now have back-to-back home league fixtures against Man United and Aston Villa before travelling to West Ham United on December 18, while they will welcome Arsenal to Carrow Road on Boxing Day, and it will be fascinating to see where the club are in the table approaching the end of the month.
The Canaries have lost eight of their last 10 league matches against their opponents this weekend, including a 3-1 defeat when the two teams last locked horns at Carrow Road in the Premier League in October 2019.
Just seven games remained of the season, the Canaries were sitting 20th in a competitive battle for survival in the Premier League, each point instrumental in the fight to stay afloat and out of the dreaded relegation zone. Coming off the back off a five-run loss and a 4-1 blistering by Arsenal, it was hard to remain optimistic about City’s Premier League hopes.
For Man United, anything but a win against the Canaries was almost certain to end their Premier League title race. Soon-to-be champions Chelsea were flying, not losing a game in 22 fixtures. While United were doing well, going unbeaten in 20 consecutive games themselves, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side needed a perfect end to the season to even think about catching up to the London side. The first sight of goal didn’t come until the start of the second-half, but when it did, it gave the Canaries something to sing about. A free-kick delivered in the box by David Bentley was met by the head of City’s 2004-05 top scorer, Dean Ashton, opening the scoring in the home side’s favour. Man United tried their best to respond with a goal of their own, but thanks to commendable performances from Craig Fleming and Jason Shackell, United found themselves falling short at the final hurdle.
Just when it looked bad enough for United’s title hopes, Leon McKenzie made sure to put the final nail in the coffin, lacing in a volley past Tim Howard with ease, taking the score to 2-0 in the 66th minute. A flat Man United continued to provide no answer to the two goal deficit, going on finish the game 2-0, as City kept a clean sheet in a time they needed it most. A 2-0 result wasn’t ultimately enough to keep the Canaries in the Premier League, falling short by a point to West Bromwich Albion as the season ended.
Anthony Elanga is in the Manchester United squad for the trip to Norwich City after being included in a matchday group for the third time in a row under Ralf Rangnick. United flew to Norwich late this afternoon ahead of Rangnick’s third game in charge on Saturday teatime. Harry Maguire was also in the squad despite sporting a black eye as he arrived at Manchester Airport.
Man United, meanwhile, will enter Saturday’s contest off the back of a 1-1 draw with Young Boys in their final Champions League group fixture on Wednesday evening.
Interim head coach Ralf Rangnick rung the changes for the European affair, selecting a brand-new XI, and a youthful side managed to claim a point, with Tom Heaton, Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal making their first-team debuts, while Mason Greenwood was on the scoresheet for the home side at Old Trafford.
Rangnick will now be looking to make it back-to-back league wins under his management, having led the Red Devils to a 1-0 success over Crystal Palace last Sunday, with Fred netting the only goal of the contest, as the club moved into sixth position in the Premier League table.
Man United are just three points behind fourth-placed West Ham United and have a favourable run of fixtures in the weeks ahead, facing Norwich, Brentford, Brighton & Hove Albion, Newcastle United and Burnley before the end of the month, and Rangnick will be looking to secure a lot of points during that period.
The fact that the German could rest his entire first-choice XI on Wednesday should stand the Red Devils in good stead this weekend, as he will demand another high-energy performance from the players, who could not find a way to perform in the latter stages of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s management.