Norwich v Swansea: Back Canaries to continue to fly high


CHAMPIONSHIP specialist James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) takes a look at Friday night's fixture between table-topping Norwich and Swansea at Carrow Road.

Norwich v Swansea | Friday 8th March 2019, 19:45 | Sky Sports

Norwich very much have the Premier League on their agenda, and Friday night represents another opportunity to move one step closer to a return to the top-flight. They welcome Swansea to Carrow Road, with the Welsh outfit one of several mid-table clubs hoping to produce an end of season run towards the play-off positions.

The Canaries have become the beacon of consistency in recent times, which has seen them sustain their spot of the top of the standings. They’ve won six of their last eight, with Preston the only side to defeat them in the league in 2019. It is also one of home league loss since October, that being the freak 4-3 setback to Derby County in December. Norwich are going great guns right now.

Swansea are anything but consistent right now, unless you want to call them consistently inconsistent. January was a good month, and they do still remain in the FA Cup, where Manchester City are to come. However, they’ve won three and lost three of their last six in league and cup, none of them containing back-to-back victories. The seven-point gap to the play-offs won’t shorten unless that changes.

Norwich are averaging ever so slightly over two goals per-game – this has now seen them become the highest scorers in the Championship. They find themselves in a situation where they go into every game believing they can score two, three or even four goals. Considering they’re averaging 15 shots per-game this season, that is a very good strike rate.

It might surprise to see that Swansea actually have a stronger defensive record than Norwich do, despite being 22 points worse off. Norwich do have 26 more goals to their name but, with Finnish forward Teemu Pukki being responsible for 24 across the season.

Swansea average 13 shots per game, only two less than Norwich, so they’re having the opportunities, but they’re just one of those teams that tends to need five or six being opportunities before eventually taking one.

It has been said that one possible weakness for Norwich is their inability to defend set-piece situations with too much conviction. Exactly a third of their Championship goals conceded has come via these routes. The good thing for them is that Swansea are known to exploit such situations, with them only having seven set-piece goals to their name. Considering they’ve scored 45 overall, it is not a significant percentage.

Swansea can make their mark

One hope for Swansea is that Norwich don’t pride themselves on clean sheets. They only have 29% clean sheets to their name, which is about middle of the ground in the league; perhaps slightly higher. Compared to the 47% of Middlesbrough and 40% of Sheffield United, they’re falling short in that regard.

Nevertheless, if the goals continue to flow at the other end, they’ll be just fine. Across their last 10 at home in all competitions, they have the one clean sheet, that coming versus rivals Ipswich.

Whilst Swansea have been inconsistent, their away record is something which could ultimately cost them a play-off place once May comes around. They started the season winning two of their first three away, one of which was at Sheffield United. However, they’ve only won at strugglers Bolton and Reading, as well as Brentford since. They’ve one clean sheet in their last 11 away, but only failed to score twice in that period.

Swansea have the ability to cause Norwich problems here, but they just simply aren’t reliable enough. Whenever I’ve seen them this season, they do create plenty of openings, but we’ve already touched upon the fact they don’t convince enough with their end product. They’re only average just over a goal per-game away from home, and Norwich could have too much firepower for them on the night.

71% of Norwich home league matches has beaten the 2.5 goal line. Almost two-thirds of their home contests has witnessed both teams scoring, so at the very least they’re needing two goals at Carrow Road to have a chance of victory. They’ve won 11/17 at home however, so clearly they’re having no trouble in that regard. 59% of Swansea away clashes has seen BTTS, too.

Norwich to win and Both Teams To Score is a nice 12/5 (Bet365) that certainly has a chance.

Pukki to poke home first

When Norwich win, then there is always a great chance of a certain striker popping up amongst the goals. That man Pukki is the top scorer in the division with 24, being two ahead of Sheff Utd’s Billy Sharp. The 28-year-old has scored in seven of the last eight goals, yielding a return of nine goals, including two braces.

You won’t get rich backing Pukki in the First Goalscorer market at 16/5 (Black Type), but the guy is just delivering the goods. Swansea have lost their last three away games and may find it tough to contain the former Brondby man.

Best Bets

Norwich v Swansea – Norwich to win and Both Teams To Score (12/5 Bet365)

Norwich v Swansea – Teemu Pukki to score first (16/5 Black Type)

About Author

Since leaving university I've worked as a Research/Football Performance/Betting Analyst. I live and breath all things football. This has gradually helped me with my betting when looking for value and ultimately, winning selections. I've experienced both the bad, and more recently, the good supporting Lincoln City, with whom my weekends aren't the same without.

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