World Football

Norwich City vs. Manchester United: Date, Time, Live Stream, TV Info and Preview

HULL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  Wayne Rooney (R) of Manchester United reacts as he prepares to restart the game after his team conceded a goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Manchester United at KC Stadium on December 26, 2013 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistDecember 28, 2013

Are Manchester United back?

Very quietly United have won three games in a row and have climbed to seventh place, just eight points behind table-leading Arsenal. It's been in large part to Wayne Rooney, whose nine goals and nine assists mean he has directly contributed in 18 of United's 31 Premier League goals this season.

In Rooney they trust, indeed.

Meanwhile, Norwich City come into this match pretty cold, having taken two points in their last three matches with draws against Swansea City and Sunderland and a loss to Fulham on Boxing Day. While the Canaries are still three points clear of the relegation zone, the bottom teams are starting to climb closer to them.

This is a pretty vital match for these clubs. Let's break it down.

 

When: Saturday, December 28 at 10 a.m. ET/3 p.m. GMT

WhereCarrow Road, Norwich, England

Watch: NBC Sports Network; NBC Sports Live Extra

Odds: Manchester United (50.4 percent), Norwich City (25.8 percent) and draw (23.9 percent), according to Bloomberg Sports

 

Key Storylines

HULL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  Wayne Rooney (R) of Manchester United shoots and scores his sides second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Manchester United at KC Stadium on December 26, 2013 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Ma
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Manchester United haven't just survived the latest injury from Robin van Persie, they've thrived, winning their last five games including the Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk on December 10 and three straight Premier League matches.

The implication isn't that United is better without van Persie in the lineup—they've won six and drawn two in the 11 Premier League games he's played this season—but rather that United have managed to pull together and find a way to win of late without their star striker. 

A huge part of that has been the inspired play of Rooney, who seems to rotate between playing behind the striker and settling far deeper in the midfield, slotting in just in front of the defense. He goes where he's needed and he's thriving doing so. 

Meanwhile, Adnan Januzaj has been a revelation this season. Patrice Evra is as steady and reliable as ever. And most importantly, David Moyes seems to be figuring out how to mix, match and rotate his players. Slowly but surely, United are crafting a new identity under their new manager. 

It's all enough for former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke to claim that the side still can win a league title this season, as he told Sky Sports:

They needed to put themselves in a good position to launch an attack and they'll try to pick the teams above them off one at a time, step by step. When those sides above them slip up United must be ready to pounce.

Moyes and the players know this is a crucial part of the season but they'll be quietly confident they can put a run together to see them challenge at the top of the table.

Things are looking promising and, come the end of the season, I wouldn't be surprised if United retain their Premier League title.

For Norwich, the main struggle continues to be scoring goals. They've managed just 16 goals on the season, tied for 15th in the Premier League. It does appear as though they've finally found someone capable of scoring with some regularity in Gary Hooper, who has five goals in his last eight Premier League games.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel's return from injury should help in that regard as well, though it wouldn't appear—on paper, at least—that Norwich have the firepower to keep pace with United's attack.

 

Prediction

HULL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez of Manchestere United celebrate the third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Manchester United at KC Stadium on December 26, 2013
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The Canaries will take some solace from the fact that Hull City scored two goals in the first 13 minutes against United on Boxing Day. They'll take little solace from the fact that United responded with three unanswered goals to win the contest. 

It would appear that United are heating up at the right time. Rooney is playing his best football in quite some time, Moyes seems to have a better feel for this team and suddenly, a league title seems only improbable, not impossible.

United will get the win, 2-1.

 

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