Norwich v Birmingham
Friday December 18, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports

Norwich surrender automatic promotion berth



Jordan Rhodes came off the bench to score his first goal since November to give Norwich a share of the spoils at West Brom last weekend. The Canaries surrendered their position in the Championship's automatic promotion places with that 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns but were pleased with the result having levelled proceedings with seven minutes to play.

Daniel Farke's troops conceded early, and although they improved after a slow start, the Canaries still required a fine stoppage-time save from Tim Krul to deny Albion a dramatic late winner. Krul earlier kept out attempts from Mason Holgate and Gareth Barry, while Norwich's top scorer Teemu Pukki poked the best of his three efforts wide after the interval.
Norwich's previously settled back-line has been disrupted by injury and suspension over the past six weeks, however Timm Klose is expected to return to the starting XI here, whilst Grant Hanley is available again after serving his one-game ban. Elsewhere, key midfielders Mo Leitner and Marco Stiepermann remain absent for the hosts.

Birmingham fall to rare defeat

Birmingham slipped to their first league defeat in six, and only their second reverse at St Andrews all season, when going down 2-1 at home to Middlesbrough last time out. The result leaves the Blues four points adrift of the Championship play-off spots coming into this weekend's trip to Carrow Road.
Garry Monk's men fell behind before half-time and only restored parity after the break through Che Adams briefly before Boro responded almost immediately with the decisive goal in a 2-1 triumph eight minutes from time. Birmingham full-back Kristian Pedersen had earlier made two goal-line clearances, whilst Harlee Dean headed against the post.
Monk bemoaned the "harsh outcome" for his team post-match, claiming his team "were fantastic in the second half". Striker Isaac Vassell returned from the bench after 14 months out injured last week and could feature again here but David Davis and Omar Bogle remain out. Gary Gardner may lose his place after being subbed at half-time against Boro.

Canaries odds-on favourites to succeed

Norwich have W5-D2-L1 in their last eight meetings with Birmingham at Carrow Road this century with their sole reverse here against the Blues arriving back in 2002. The Canaries have been chalked up as 1.86 favourites to succeed on Friday night, an appealing price considering the hosts have W7-D1-L1 when welcoming teams outside the top-six.
Only Leeds are firing in more shots from inside the penalty area than the Norfolk giants this season, although Daniel Farke's men have let the guard down in recent weeks, returning only W3-D5-L1 across their most recent nine Championship clashes, with two of their three triumphs arriving against struggling Bolton and Rotherham.
Birmingham 4.60 have W7-D10-L4 since mid-August, including winning at table-topping Leeds and holding second-placed Sheffield United to a goalless draw at Bramall Lane. However, 28 (72%) of their 39-point haul has been won against clubs in 15th and below with their record against the top-14 reading W1-D8-L5, suggesting the draw 3.55 ]is a runner.

Goals expected at Carrow Road

There's no doubt Norwich's recent injury and suspension issues have dented their defensive ability and since Bonfire Night the hosts have silenced only two of their 11 league opponents. Nevertheless, the Canaries continue to provide plenty of final-threat, scoring in all bar three of their 27 Championship contests in 2018/19.
Ten of Norwich's past 15 second-tier fixtures have featured at least three goals, making the 1.99 available on Over 2.5 Goals an eye-catching poke. Only six of Birmingham's away days have followed suit, but the Blues have scored in 17 of their last 19 league games and shipped at least two goals in five of their seven trips to teams in 14th and above.
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