Most seasons have a section earmarked as the crucial bit that can make or break a season, and 2013/4 is no different. As of this weekend, we’ll be in it. Away games against two teams in the bottom six over the next ten days could yield a points haul that will keep City clear of the drowning pack, or a points deficit that drags Steve Bruce’s men into it. And it begins with a trip to Norwich tomorrow.
Bruce, of course, can throw in two new, proven centre forwards at Carrow Road. The timing of the signings is impeccable, the identity of them is exciting. Nikica Jelavić and Shane Long may start together but even if they don’t, they will each play a part in proceedings against a Norwich side keeping their heads just above water in 15th place.
Jelavić has a World Cup place to play for and so his personal incentive to deliver could prove decisive for City. He has trained with his new team-mates this week, having signed earlier than long, and will probably start the game alongside Yannick Sagbo. Long, who signed little more than 24 hours before kick-off, hasn’t trained with the squad yet and therefore will likely begin on the bench.
Bruce has no other changes to make, with George Boyd reverting to the bench to allow for Jelavić’s arrival. Robbie Brady and Paul McShane are still injured. Norwich, whom Bruce served with distinction in the 1980s as player and skipper, have their own impressive new signing in Jonas Gutierrez available and welcome back from injury Anthony Pilkington and Alex Tettey.
A City win would complete a first double of the season, having beaten the Canaries 1-0 with ten men at the Circle back in August. City did win in their previous visit to Norwich back in September 2010 and generally fare well at Carrow Road but haven’t done a double over the Canaries since 1970/1. City’s odds on winning are 21/10, with Norwich’s chances rated at 7/5 and the draw, which has been a common result between these two, at 11/5. With all the invective and argument raging again this week about the club owner’s insane plans for the future, it once again is something of a relief to have a match to concentrate on. C’mon City.