Norwich v Southampton: Struggling Canaries to fall short in restart match
Simon Mail previews bottom club Norwich's first game of the restart with the Canaries badly needing a win at home to Southampton...
Norwich v Southampton Friday, 18:00 Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Canaries running out of time to avoid relegation
Norwich resume their Premier League campaign, after the three month suspension, on Friday night and Daniel Farke's side face a huge challenge to avoid the drop. The bottom side are six points behind 17th-placed Watford with nine matches remaining. Norwich have been competitive throughout the campaign but five wins from 29 matches leaves them with an almighty task to stay up.
Their last home league game before the pandemic was an unexpected 1-0 victory against third-placed Leicester. But Norwich were beaten 1-0 at Sheffield United in their final match before the break at the start of March. The Canaries have scored just 25 goals, the joint fewest in the competition, with their lack of potency in attack and an over reliance on striker Teemu Pukki, likely to prove costly at the end of the season. Norwich have the lowest shot conversion rate in the division with a return of just 7.5 per cent.
Saints bidding to extend strong away record
Southampton return to action in 14th position and close to safety with a seven-point buffer over the bottom three. Ralph Hasenhuttl deserves credit after overcoming a horrendous start to the season which included a humiliating 9-0 home drubbing against Leicester. Impressive form across the winter appears to have guided the Saints out of trouble and Hasenhuttl was rewarded this month with a new four-year contract.
The Saints' away form has played a major role in their revival with six victories the best haul outside of the top four. Southampton's form tailed off prior to the suspension with the team beaten 3-1 at West Ham before a 1-0 home defeat to Newcastle in March. The break may have helped them though and Hasenhuttl will be keen for his team to push on and clinch safety in their next few games.
Southampton worthy favourites for clash
Southampton are 2.28to resume their campaign with a victory and the visitors are worthy favourites for the Carrow Road clash. Six of the Saints' ten league wins have come away from home and it would be no surprise if they added to this record. Southampton defeated Norwich 2-1 in December and Hasenhuttl's counter-attacking side are set up well to punish Norwich on the break.
Norwich are 3.35outsiders for this match and the pressure is on the hosts to win. Four of their five league wins have come at home but without fans in attendance any significant advantage is undoubtedly negated, as we have seen in the cluster of away victories in the Bundesliga since the restart.
The draw is trading at 3.70and certainly merits consideration although both teams have not been involved in regular stalemates. Southampton have drawn just four times in 29 matches while Norwich have been held six times. On balance, the Saints are the stronger team and in a behind closed doors match, siding with Southampton looks to be the best play.
No guarantee of high-scoring contest
Norwich's lack of cutting edge in the final third helps explain their position in the table and the team have gone nine league games without scoring more than one goal. Four of their last five matches in the competition have seen under 2.5 goals scored and this could be another slow burner. Under three goals is worth consideration at 2.08.
Southampton have won each of their last six Premier League games against promoted sides, as many as they had in their previous 23 such games in the competition. It is their longest ever winning run against such sides in the competition.