Manchester United v Norwich City: Plenty of reasons to take on United

Manchester United might be a very short price this Saturday against Norwich, but Alan Dudman thinks the Reds are worth taking on at Old Trafford....

Manchester United v Norwich City
Saturday 15:00

United's stop start season showing no signs of improving

It really has been a puzzling season for Manchester United, and that makes it doubly hard from a betting point of view. The stop-start nature has been a nightmare in trying to second guess what sort of team will turn up on the day. Just when you think they have cracked it, they put in a stinker. And if you thought they had no chance in the derby against Manchester City - they popped up with a brilliant counter-attacking display to win at the Etihad 1-2. Mystifying.
The big problem all season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been a lack of creativity in midfield. With no Paul Pogba or Scott McTominay, the midfield options are far from inspiring. The combination of Fred and Andreas Pereira will never hurt teams. Neither will Nemenja Matic - who just isn't quick and dynamic enough - especially for the counter-attacking sorties that Solskjaer favours.
I have always rated Jesse Lingard and like him as a player, but he has been struggling recently with form and has even been linked with a move away from the club.
With thin midfield options, United are also struggling with injuries at the back. Harry Maguire's hip injury meant that Phil Jones partnered Victor Lindelof in defence versus Manchester City. That game included their worst 45 minutes of the season according to Solskjaer.

Recent defensive displays offer hope for Canaries

Currently placed bottom of the Premier League, Daniel Farke's side have lost 16 of their last 20 matches in the top flight and have scored just five goals on the road all season - and that all paints a rather gloomy picture. Still.
But some major plus points have emerged since the 0-2 win at Everton in November. Namely some fine performances from Noel Cantwell - who is forming an excellent understanding with the "Assist King" Emiliano Buendia. But they have also shored up defensively at the back.
In their last nine matches, the Canaries have suffered three losses - and those were all by the odd goal at 1-2, 1-2 and 1-0. So they are managing to stay in games. They dealt with the crossing ability of James Maddison superbly with the 1-1 at Leicester City before Christmas. Whilst their "doubling up" of Wilfried Zaha recently in the 1-1 against Crystal Palace again showed their defensive capabilities. They really nullified the threat by denying the winger space.
Farke might have felt the Palace stalemate "like a loss", but he'll be pleased with the way his team are fighting going into this Saturday.

United price the right one to take on

I previewed Norwich's game at Everton earlier in the season, with the Toffees priced at 1.42. We have a similar set of odds with United here at 1.38, and I am not going to make the mistake again of thinking this will be a fairly straightforward task. Of course, they should win at those odds, but Norwich have a habit of saving their best performances against the bigger teams, whilst the Red Devils haven't exactly sparkled against supposed lesser opposition.
In fact, it's three losses in six for the hosts and they have thrown in some terrible performances too. A very poor first half in defeat against Arsenal was followed by a 2-0 loss to Watford and the 0-0 against Wolves in the FA Cup. Manchester United failed to register a single shot on target at Molineux for that game - which was the first time that had happened since January 2015.
They had no space to run in behind against Watford, and I can envisage a similar sort of scenario here with Norwich setting up. Farke will know how strong United are with their counter-attacks on the break, but with the lack of creativity from their midfielders, it's hardly a bet in backing the hosts at such a short price.
I'd rather be a layer here. Yes, we can explore options for backing Norwich at 10.00 to win, but with such a big price, it opens up the Double Chance or Draw No Bet possibilities, but taking on the hosts is a very cheap lay indeed at 1.39. And with the lay of course, you do get the two results running for you. Click here to find out more about laying on the Betfair Exchange.

Look for first half bets with Norwich to keep it tight

There are several fascinating angles here to explore from an In-Play vantage point. Firstly, if you are going in short on United, Norwich are the only team yet to recover a single point from a losing position in the Premier League this season. They have lost all 13 games they have gone behind in. However, with such short odds on the home team, it makes that a non-starter for me.
I quite like the option on banking on a Manchester United poor first half again. It's been a common theme recently. They were awful in the opening 45 against Arsenal, whilst the Carabao Cup first half against their neighbours was even worse. They were very slow against Watford too and didn't get a shot on target until they had gone two-nil down.
The Half Time Score of 0-0 at 3.75 could be looked at, and it's not a surprise the Draw is in at 2.76 for the Half Time market.
I've previously mentioned Cantwell's contributions, which haven't gone unnoticed following an energetic performance against Leicester. He has scored six times this term, which makes him the highest-scoring English midfielder ahead of Deli Alli, James Maddison and Jack Grealish. You can back Cantwell at 5.40 in the To Score market.

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