Norwich v Sheffield Wednesday Friday April 19, 19:45 Live on Sky Sports
Norwich closing in on promotion
Norwich took another step towards promotion last Sunday when Teemu Pukki scored a late leveller at Wigan. The Canaries had trailed to a controversial penalty before levelling proceedings with nine minutes to play, earning draw that leaves the table-toppers requiring a maximum of six points from their final four games to secure Premier League football.
The Norfolk outfit survived a late scare when Wigan saw a stoppage-time winner ruled out for offside but Norwich were not to be denied, coming through a difficult contest unscathed with the backing of 5,000 travelling fans. Daniel Farke's triple substitution with 15 minutes to play was arguably pivotal, leading to top goalscorer Pukki poking home a vital equaliser.
Emi Buendia is set to serve the final game of his suspension on Good Friday, and Todd Cantwell has been given the opportunity to impress in his absence over the last two outings. Moritz Leitner and Mario Vrancic are both pushing for recalls after their impact off the bench at Wigan although Farke is unlikely to make too many changes to his 4-2-3-1 system.
Sheffield Wednesday come up short
Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce admitted, "I don't think there is any question that the better team won" after seeing his Owls side suffer a damaging and dominant 1-0 defeat at Leeds last weekend. Only an inspired performance from Irish international Keiren Westwood in goal kept Wednesday afloat at Elland Road in a one-sided contest.
The returning Gary Hooper and Barry Bannan forced saves in the final-third, whilst Marco Matias fired into the side-netting late on as the Owls searched for a late leveller but in truth Bruce's boys were easily second-best. Leeds won the Expected Goals (xG) battle 2.51 - 0.40 and the shot count 28-8 as they monopolised possession and clear-cut chances.
Wednesday are six points off the play-off places and know maximum points from their final four fixtures is paramount to stand any chance of a top-six finish. Sam Hutchinson is expected to continue in the starting XI after returning against Leeds, with Fernando Forestieri pushing for a recall in Bruce's tried-and-trusted 4-4-2 formation.
Canaries hot favourites to succeed
Norwich are unbeaten in their last three (W2-D1-L0) Carrow Road encounters with Sheffield Wednesday having suffered four straight defeats against the Owls previously. Indeed, since the two teams operated in the Premier League in 1995, the pair have shared supremacy relatively often, with Wednesday enjoying a slight W11-D3-L11 head-to-head advantage.
Norwich1.54 have returned W24-D9-L3 across all league outings since the September international break, although the Canaries have been held to stalemates in each of their last two outings against relegation battlers Reading and Wigan. The hosts have claimed W14-D2-L2 in Norfolk when excluding top-four rivals and lost just once in 2019 (W11-D5-L1).
Sheffield Wednesday6.60 have W6-D6-L2 since Steve Bruce arrived in the managerial hot-seat, although the Owls' resurgence began as soon as Jos Luhukay was dismissed. Wednesday have W9-D8-L3 over their past 20 Championship contests , recording 11 clean sheets, to move from relegation battlers to within an outside chance of the play-offs.
Value with goals
Twelve of Norwich's past 15 fixtures have featured Over 2.5 Goals1.77 and the Canaries have seen 15/21 (71%) of their Carrow Road contests produce at least three goals. A huge 12/21 (57%) have even paid out for Over 3.5 Goals backers as games here have averaged 3.71 goals. City have scored three or more goals themselves on 11 occasions here.
Sheffield Wednesday's renewed resilience deserves respect. The Owls have delivered Under 2.5 Goals winners in 14 of 20 encounters since Jos Luhukay departed, with their back-to-basics approach to defence reaping plenty of reward. However, Leeds could (and should) have troubled on the scoresheet more often against Steve Bruce's boys last weekend.
There has been 20 goals in the last four meetings between the two teams and backing another goal-heavy game makes most appeal with Over 2.5 Goals an appealing price at 1.77 on Good Friday.
Mark O’Haire says: back Sheffield United -0.5/1 @ 1.75 in Sheffield United v Nottingham Forest