Norwich v Birmingham: Slow-burner in-store at Carrow Road?

Norwich v Birmingham
Tuesday October 20, 19:45
Sky Sports Football

Norwich pinch late victory

An injury-time penalty from Jordan Hugill gave Norwich all three points against 10-man Rotherham on Saturday despite an indifferent performance. The game looked set to end level before Emi Buendia was fouled in the area deep into stoppage time and Hugill slammed home from the spot, completing a welcome turnaround for the Canaries.

Daniel Farke‘s side fell behind early on after a costly defensive mix-up and could have scored a second but for a smart penalty save by Tim Krul. Norwich levelled after the break when Michael Ihiekwe put Max Aarons‘ cross past his own goalkeeper and City enjoyed a numerical advantage for the final 20 minutes after Angus MacDonald’s deserved red card.

Farke said, “It feels like a massive win. There is no replacements for wins and with this three points we are in a solid position. It was a win for team spirit and togetherness.” But in truth, the Canaries offensive efforts were stodgy throughout with City appearing to adopt a different style in possession, with an emphasis on crossing and a more direct approach.

Birmingham fail to fire

Birmingham‘s unbeaten record came to an end on Saturday as the Blues fell to a 1-0 loss at the hands of Sheffield Wednesday. Aitor Karanka‘s toothless team turned in a drab performance, struggling to make any impact as an attacking force and managing only two attempts on-target in a match featuring few clear-cut goalscoring opportunities.

Barry Bannan’s 49th minute penalty settled matters in Wednesday’s favour and Karanka was left to rue the absence of leading forward Lukas Jutkiewicz and creator Jon Toral. With the former unwell, his participation for the midweek match at Norwich is again in doubt, whilst the latter is also unlikely to be fit after picking up an injury in training.

Post-match Karanka admitted, “Today we had different players and we tried to be more offensive, but the lack of intensity – especially in the first half – made it difficult to attack and difficult to defend. We’re going to try to sort it out as soon as possible because this league is unforgiving.” New arrivals Jonathan Leko and Riley McGree are pushing for starts.

Norwich have suffered a solitary defeat in 15 league fixtures with Birmingham dating back to 2002 (W7-D7-L1). The Canaries can also boast an impressive W6-D2-L1 return when welcoming the Blues to Carrow Road this century, earning maximum points in the past three renewals between the sides in Norfolk, the last of which came in January 2019.

Norwich 4/51.81 have preferred substance over style in the embryonic stage of the Championship season since relegation with a shift away from the pure possession approach of yesteryear. The Canaries aren’t yet a cohesive, slick outfit and Daniel Farke’s men aren’t yet trustworthy at odds-on quotes following five closely-tested battles thus far (W2-D1-L2).

Birmingham 7/24.50 have made a solid, if unspectacular, start to life under Aitor Karanka’s charge. Unsurprisingly, matches involving Blues under the Spaniard’s tutorship have been tight affairs (W1-D3-L1) with the Second City club often taking a safety-first approach. With Lukas Jutkiewicz potentially absent again, City are likely to lack attacking punch here.

Neither Norwich nor Birmingham have particularly set the Championship alight this season with only two of their combined 10 tussles featuring Over 2.5 Goals 1/11.98. The duo have failed to even score in four of their combined contests thus far with slow starts to games particularly eye-catching.

Indeed, Norwich and Birmingham have combined to score just two first-half goals across 450 minutes (seven-and-a-half-hours) of first-half action this term. Six of those 10 aforementioned mentioned showdowns have been goalless at the interval and we can support a repeat at Carrow Road this midweek at attractive 2.80 odds.

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