It is a new month, ladies and gentlemen. October was wonderful, but Saturday marks the first match of November, and Leeds have their work cut out for them.
Leeds currently sit 9th in the EFL Championship Table, and after a great string of games where the Whites went 4-1-1 in all competitions, many fans including myself think that Garry Monk can lead us into the playoffs. If we want this great streak of good results to continue, we have to find a way past recently-relegated side Norwich City. This will be no easy task.
The last time we played Norwich City was a night most of us fans won’t forget for a long, long time. October 25th was the day Leeds came from behind and eventually took the EFL Cup tie to penalties, where we triumphed thanks to a world-class performance by Silvestri and a heroic final penalty from Ronaldo Vieira.
Elland Road was rocking that night, but can the Whites repeat the same kind of performance at Carrow Road?
It will be a tough game for sure, even given the Canaries three match losing streak. I expect Norwich to dominate possession, as both Bridcutt and Dallas will still miss the match Saturday. They are our two players who could help wreak havoc on a talented but imperfect Norwich City defense. Last week, Brighton put up 5 goals on the Canaries, but we’ll struggle to do the same without our best midfielders.
In order for Leeds to be able to come out with at least a draw tomorrow, I’ve determined three keys to a good performance.
1) Leeds have to take advantage of Norwich mistakes and pounce on the counter-attack.
As stated before, the possession arrow will heavily favor the Canaries. My guess is that Norwich will have at least 60% of the possession, so Leeds have to force mistakes and counter effectively. When a team has more possession, most of their passes tend to be between the back four and the goalie. In order to force mistakes in those areas, Leeds need to press high up the field when the ball is in Norwich City’s final third.
Another key area is the counter-attack. On free kick and corner situations, Leeds has to get the ball out of their penalty box and look down the wings for a quick counter. We saw Doukara score on a counter last Saturday, look for more of the same.
2) Leeds defense has to look like a Premier League defense tomorrow.
The Leeds defense has been our strength so far this season, but we need to bring just a little extra to Carrow Road. When you look at the Norwich attack, the three names that pop up instantly are Cameron Jerome, Steven Naismith, and Wes Hoolahan, three players who have plenty of Premier League and international experience.
They are all dangerous, and the likes of Bartley and Jansson need to have the best game of their career against them. Jerome has pace and has a physical build, so he needs to be closed down and forced further down the field. Naismith has been off lately, but he’s a player that pops up at the right time. And Wes Hoolahan is a master at free kicks, so our defense needs to limit the fouls and especially limit the fouls within 30 yards of Rob Green’s goal.
3) Leeds cannot give up if they concede first.
Playing from behind is something Leeds does often, and given their bunkering strategy in the first half of games, it’s possible it will happen tomorrow. If the Whites do concede first, they must not give up on the game. Given our current form, I don’t think they will, but being dominated in possession on the road is always disheartening.
Thankfully, Garry Monk knows how to tactically change a game in his favor, and when the final whistle blows, I am confident that Leeds can pull out of this game with at least a draw against a currently-poor Norwich City squad.
The past 10 games vs Norwich City takes us back to the 2005/06 campaign. The results are as follows: D-W-L-W-L-D-D-D-L-W
Norwich City vs Leeds United
EFL Championship fixture
Carrow Road, Norwich
LUTV, BBC Radio Leeds
Saturday, November 5, 2016
8:00am PT / 11:00am ET / 3:00pm BT
Leeds United’s predicted XI
Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Taylor, Sacko, Phillips, Hernandez, O’Kane, Antonsson, Wood.
Norwich City’s predicted XI
Ruddy, Martin, Benett, Klose, Olsson, Tettey, Dorrans, Murphy, Hoolahan, Pritchard, Jerome.
Norwich City 4/5
Leeds United 10/3
I said earlier that this will be a tough game. Norwich lost 5-0 in their last league game, which means they have something to prove especially in front of their home fans. We have a tough next two games, with Norwich and then a sellout game at Elland Road against Championship-leaders Newcastle.
Sadly, I don’t think we will get a positive result this game. Norwich will have the crowd behind them, and I think that’ll prove to be the difference, even if I’d like it to be otherwise. My score prediction: Norwich City 2, Leeds United 0.