Afternoon Premier League fans! Thanks for joining Sports Mole for minute-by-minute coverage of a crucial clash at Carrow Road. Norwich are still very much in relegation danger and desperately need three points today to reach safety.
The Canaries have slipped back towards the wrong end in recent weeks and now sit just four points above the drop zone. Just one win in six matches is the reason for the slide for Chris Hughton
's side, with goals at a premium. Last week's narrow defeat at Wigan Athletic has got the nerves jangling again in Norfolk, but two more wins will probably be enough to keep them safe at this stage.
Swansea have also stuttered in recent weeks, albeit against strong opposition. Successive home defeats to Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have dealt a blow to Laudrup's hopes of continuing their strong league campaign following success in the Capital One Cup.
With both sides struggling for form and goals, the pressure is really on at Carrow Road this afternoon for a big performance from both sides. Norwich will feel a heavy weight of expectation at home this afternoon, but do have a 100% record against Swansea in the Premier League to call on as a positive omen.
Neutrals will be hoping for a repeat of the two sides' quite remarkable meeting earlier this season, which saw Norwich triumph 4-3 at the Liberty Stadium. That win in Wales seem a distant memory for Hughton, with goals from a late Robert Snodgrass
strike helping to cap a nine-match unbeaten run for the Canaries.
Hughton faces an interesting selection dilemma in attack this afternoon. Grant Holt
has been forced to accept a place on the bench in recent weeks, with Kei Kamara
preferred in a lone front role. With goals hard to come by at Carrow Road in recent months will last season's top scorer return to the starting XI?
Swansea need Michu
to start firing if they are to keep their place in the top half. The Spanish forward was back on target against Spurs last week, but his goal proved too little too late as Laudrup's men lost 2-1. Slow starts have plagued the Swans in recent weeks, which is a trait they can ill afford this afternoon against the high-tempo style of Norwich.
Laudrup was also boosted before kickoff by the news that central defender Chico Flores has signed a contract extension at the Liberty Stadium. You sense that after such a fine campaign the Danish coach faces a battle this summer to get his star players to follow suit and stick with his project in South Wales.
BREAKING TEAM NEWS!
We have just received information that Grant Holt
has once again been left on the bench for Norwich this afternoon. Kamara will continue in attack at Carrow Road, supported by Wes Hoolahan. A full look at both starting XIs in Norfolk will follow in just a few moments.
NORWICH: Bunn, R Martin, Bassong, Turner, Garrido, Johnson, Howson, Snodgrass, E Bennett, Hoolahan, Kamara
SWANSEA: Vorm, Tiendalli, Chico, Williams, Davies, Ki, De Guzman, Michu, Routledge, Dyer, Moore
Norwich have taken the chance to recall Mark Bunn
in goal. The stopper was suspended for last week's match at Wigan but earns an immediate return to the starting XI in place of Lee Camp. The Canaries' first-choice keeper John Ruddy
is also closing in on a first-team return and is set to play in a reserve match this week.
Defensive midfielder Alexander Tettey has failed to make Hughton's side, despite recovering from a troublesome knee problem. Creative influence Anthony Pilkington
also continues to miss out for Norwich with a hamstring strain.
Swansea have named a very attacking lineup this afternoon, with Michu partnered in attack by Luke Moore
. The forward scored at West Bromwich Albion in his last start away from home and gets another chance to impress. Nathan Dyer
and Wayne Routledge
are both included on the flanks, so expect plenty of attacking impetus from the visitors this afternoon.
There are just three 3pm kickoffs in the Premier League this afternoon, with Norwich sure to be keeping an eye on events at the Britannia Stadium. Aston Villa are four points behind the Canaries in 18th place ahead of today's trip to Stoke City, who are level with Norwich and not yet safe themselves!
FINAL SCORE! Speaking of important results at the foot of the table, Southampton have just recorded a 2-0 win at Reading in today's early match. Goals from Jay Rodriquez and Adam Lallana have surely taken Saints safe, while Reading looked resigned to relegation in rock bottom.
Both managers have plenty of attacking options on the bench this afternoon if a tight encounter fails to produce the required result early on. Holt, Luciano Becchio and Roland Lamah are just some of the names likely to feature late on this afternoon. A full look at both benches will follow in just a moment.
NORWICH SUBS: Camp, Whittaker, R Bennett, Fox, Tettey, Holt, Becchio
SWANSEA SUBS: Tremmel, Monk, Rangel, Pablo, Agustien, Lamah, Shechter
For Swansea fans wondering where Leon Britton
is on that teamsheet, the midfielder misses out today after his partner gave birth to twin boys. Ki Sung-Yung take his place in the starting XI on a day which would have marked his 400th career league appearance.
Both managers have been very respectful in the build-up to today's clash. Hughton in particular has been glowing in his praise of Swansea and the style implemented by Michael Laudrup
. Here is a look at what he had to say.
Hughton told reporters: "I think they are as good as any side in the league in terms of the way they play.
"They are a well-drilled team. I suppose that clinical side of their game they had a few weeks ago has been missing recently but they are still in there creating chances.No doubt they will be a big threat.
"They are a team who can open you up. In a player like Michu, they have a really clinical finisher. It is no fluke the number of goals he has scored."
Laudrup believes that Swansea will need to withstand a physical assault from Norwich in the early stages to establish themselves at Carrow Road.
The Dane told reporters: "We know what to expect and that is a very direct approach from Norwich.
"They are in a very difficult moment because they have not been on a good run and they need six or seven points to go 100 per cent clear of the bottom three.
"They will be hard and they will be physical. I don't know how good the pitch will be and I think we have to be prepared for a lot of direct play."
We are just under 10 minutes from kickoff at Carrow Road as Norwich go in search of only their second win in 15 Premier League games. With both sides far from top form who will earn three vital points in the fight to finish this season strongly?
PREDICTION! With this afternoon's clash fast approaching it's time for me to make a reasoned prediction. Today's clash is tough to call but I think Norwich's dire need for points will see them prevail today. I'll go for 2-1 to the Canaries, with Holt to prove important from the bench.
Both teams are out on the field at Carrow Road, with the Norwich home support in full voice as usual. The Canaries may have beaten Arsenal and Manchester United at home this season, but three points against Swansea may prove their most important win of the campaign to date!
Both sides opt for a pre-match huddle as Michael Oliver is slightly late to get the match underway. Norwich eventually get us underway at a sunny Carrow Road, shooting from left to right.
Norwich are quick to launch a long diagonal towards the far corner, but Bennett quick to test Ben Davies
with a darting run down the flank. The Swansea defender does well to regain possession and play the ball back of his opponent to win a goal kick.
The home side have started strongly, switching possession to both flanks as Garrido drives down the wing. He elects to switch inside rather than aim for Kamara in the box and looses possession after failing to pick out Johnson.
Swansea attempt an uncharacteristic long pass to Michu, who is beaten in the air by Michael Turner
. The visitors quickly regain possession through Routledge, who picks out a late run from Michu with a pass infield. The Spaniard attempts to pass into bottom corner from 20 yards but his low effort falls well wide of the near post.
SAVE! Michu picks out Moore with a quick pass, which goes through Bassong's legs despite a last-ditch dive. Moore runs at pace into the penalty area, but sends a tame effort towards goal that is easily caught by Bunn.
GOAL RULED OUT! A superb curling finish into the bottom corner from Michu has been ruled out. Swansea are furious but the referee's whistle had definitely gone following a push from Routledge in the build-up.
The Spaniard finished that with some aplomb but will have to wait for his 17th of the season. Norwich have an injury concern to goalkeeper Bunn, who looks far from comfortable after hurting his groin while taking a goal kick. With John Ruddy
still out injured third-choice keeper Lee Camp may well be called into action here.
NORWICH SUBSTITUTION! Bunn strikes the ball again and winces in pain for a second time, looks like his groin muscle has suffered a pull or strain. He finally goes down and we have a break in play as Norwich are forced into an early change. On comes Camp to take his place, who did play at Wigan last weekend.
Swansea are now in complete control of possession and territory, but Routledge is just a fraction offside as he attempts to reach a clever diagonal pass. Kamara looks far too isolated for Norwich as they struggle to the ball.
Dyer forces Garrido to smash aimlessly upfield as Swansea press to great effect high up the pitch. You can feel the nerves at Carrow Road, and with just win in their last 14 games an apprehensive start from Norwich should not be a surprise.
Just as I lament Norwich for a slow start they win a free kick just outside the penalty area. Bennett drives at Ben Davies
and forces the full-back to bring him down after being beaten for pace.
SAVE! Snodgrass drives beyond Routledge on the follow up and is brought down in the box, but still manages to get his cross off. His late pass finds Turner, who scuffs a low poke towards the bottom corner. Michel Vorm reacts quickly and makes the save at full stretch to deny the defender. Much more like it from the home side, who had a genuine penalty claim there in the build-up.
This match has come alive as Swansea go up the other end to win successive corner kicks. On both occasions Norwich have enough physical presence to clear quickly and start to build another venture forward. Kamara's all alone on a forward burst, with support coming too late from the unlikely source of Russell Martin.
Hoolahan picks out Bennett with time and space out wide in the final third. He takes a touch to steady himself, before sending a truly awful cross over a packed penalty area and out for a goal kick. He looks to the turf as an excuse but must do better from that range, with Kamara desperate for quality service into the box.
YELLOW CARD! Snodgrass has just been booked for a late lunge on Tiendalli. The challenge was poorly timed in a scissor motion, but the midfielder is still furious with the decision.
YELLOW CARD! Johnson quickly follows Snodgrass into the referee's notebook after flying into Michu with an unnecessary tackle. The Spaniard gets up to take the free kick himself but sends a bouncing effort straight into Camp's waiting arms.
gets an important block on Johnson's driving run and shot as the midfielder tries to atone for that booking. Norwich have numbers forward and recycle possession, but Williams is well placed again to block a powerful drive from Martin. Terrific defending there from the Swansea captain.
GOAL! Norwich 0-1 Swansea (Michu)
Swansea have taken the lead thanks to an emphatic finish from Michu. The visitors stayed patient from a corner kick as De Guzman drove into the penalty area. His cutback found Michu at the near post and slammed into the roof the net with his right foot. A 17th goal of the season for the Spaniard, who has been so clinical from that range all season long.
What a hammer blow for Norwich, who were just showing signs of improvement with their passing in the opposition half. Swansea keep the ball as Tiendalli and Dyer exchange passes out wide, with Michu dropping deep to link up the play.
CHANCE! Routledge and Dyer have just ripped Norwich apart with pace on the counter, with the latter spurning a chance to double Swansea's advantage from close range.
GOAL! Norwich 1-1 Swansea (Snodgrass)
Completely against the run of play Norwich have found a vital equaliser before the break. Swansea were caught too high up the pitch by Bennett, who drove beyond Davies with pace and purpose. His excellent cross into the six-yard box gave Vorm no chance to claim and found Snodgrass, who was unmarked to head home at the far post. What a moment for Norwich, who are now right back in this match.
Norwich have seized the initiative to get numbers forward, Carrow Road is now rocking. The home side win a corner but the cross is a big disappointment and fails to beat the first defender. Tiendalli gets distance on the clearance to keep Michu interested, but Camp is quick off his line and hammers into touch.
That injury to Bunn means we have three minutes of added time before the break, which begins with Kamara smashing after high and wide after a forceful turn inside. Swansea break and want a handball just outside the box after Martin got a block on Michu's curling effort. The referee waves away protests and in fairness the Scottish defender was barely three yards from Michu when he struck from range.
HALF-TIME Norwich City 1-1 Swansea City
A very entertaining first 45 minutes has seen both sides score, with Norwich showing spirit to respond after falling behind. Swansea will be bitterly disappointed to concede so quickly after Michu's opener, which was the Spaniard's 17th of the season.
SCORE UPDATE! There has also been important goals in today's two other 3pm kickoffs. Tomas Rosicky's header has Arsenal ahead at West Brom, while Gabriel Agbonlahor's early strike means Aston Villa lead at Stoke City. Three points for Villa would certainly make things interesting at the bottom, but Norwich will be willing Stoke to respond in the second half.
Norwich struggled to keep pace with Swansea's pressing style early, on, but will go into the break buoyed by their quick comeback. Bennett has been the home side's strongest outlet, with pace to burn and the beating of Davies at full-back.
Swansea look threatening every time they go forward, and might be ahead if Moore had shown composure with a pair of wayward efforts. Can they become just the fourth side to win at Carrow Road this season by regaining control after the interval?
We are just moments away from starting the second period at Carrow Road. The statistics tell the story of an even match so far, with both sides enjoying 50% possession and three shots on target. Norwich are definitely more desperate for a win, it will be interesting to see how positive Hughton is in search of three points as the match progresses.
Swansea get the second half underway, with Norwich berating the official on their way back to the field. They feel hard done by after Snodgrass failed to win a penalty, despite being bundled over by Routledge in the box. He is quickly on the attack out wide, but sends in a poor cross without direction that flies wide for a goal kick.
Moore initially meets a long diagonal pass from Davies, but is denied the chance to shoot by an important covering challenge from Bassong.
SAVE! Norwich are noticeably deeper in defence early in the second half, perhaps wary of the pace of Dyer and Routledge on the break. Swansea establish a prolonged period of possession s Routedge catches everyone by surprise with a clever flick over the top. Moore races in behind and fires towards goal, but is quickly closed down by an important reflex save from Camp.
Swansea have really taken control of the match as Michu's deflected drive drifts high over the crossbar. Tiendalli and Davies are playing much higher up the pitch at full-back, a sure sign that the visitors are growing in confidence and chasing that all-important second goal.
Routledge concedes a free kick just over 30 yards from goal after pulling out of a challenge on Howson to late to avoid contact. Vorm comfortably takes the set piece as Swansea choose to retain possession for a spell in their own half.
Davies is late to bundle over Martin and already on a booking, but the referee is not moved by angry protests from the Norwich full-back. Swansea win back possession, but a casual pass from Dyer gifts Norwich the chance to break. Kamara drops deep to run at Williams and wins a cheap foul after being clipped the Swans skipper.
GOAL! Norwich 2-1 Swansea (Turner)
A thumping finish from Turner at the far post has put Norwich ahead. Bennett sent in a brilliant curling free-kick, which brutally exposed Swansea's defensive frailty from set piece. Turner was unmarked but still had plenty to do on the half volley. His emphatic finish gave Vorm no chance and Norwich now have a lead to defend after a dramatic turnaround!
Norwich are suddenly playing with real verve and purpose as Howson drives forward out wide. His strong run and cross proves too strong for Johnson, who is warmly received by the home crowd for his attempt to meet the ball with a late charge.
SUBSTITUIONS: Laudrup has reacted by making a double change. Pablo Hernandez and Angel Rangel are on for Davies and Routledge. Tiendalli will switch to left back to deal with the threat of Bennett.
Kamara meets a deep cross to send a powerful header just over the bar, but a late flag for offside sees any chance of a corner kick evaporate. Swansea are really struggling to contain Bennett as Tiendalli gets a desperate late tackle to perfection on the flying winger.
YELLOW CARD! Williams earns a caution after bundling over Kamara for at least the third time today. Bennett and Turner nearly combine again from the free kick, but an important intervention from Ki stops Norwich from testing Vorm from close range.
Swansea are conceding free kicks far too easily as Hoolahan blazes over from 20 yards. Laudrup spoke before kickoff about the need to concentrate from set pieces, his side have switched off too easily in the second half after a strong start.
Snodgrass breaks clear down the left and crosses for Kamara, who os guilty of failing to read the cross and allowing Tiendalli to block with a last-ditch interception.
SUBSTITUTION: Swansea introduce Roland Lamah with their final change as he replaces Dyer. Just before he came on Moore continued is duel with Camp as his header was tipped onto the crossbar.
GOAL! Norwich 2-2 Swansea (Moore)
Swansea have found a response through Moore, who finally has his goal after tapping home from four yards. Norwich were all at sea defensively as the visitors worked a clever diagonal pass towards the far post. From there Hernandez did well to find Moore, who couldn't miss from close range. Hughton will be bitterly disappointed to see his side let a crucial lead slip late on as the balance of power shifts again at Carrow Road.
SUBSTITUTION: Bennett and Martin combine on the flank yet again, with the full-back bombing on to flash wide from just inside the box. Norwich have sent Holt on to partner Kamara as they chase a winning goal in the fight for survival.
Holt's first involvement is a nasty one as he flies in studs up on Chico Flores. Contact may have been minimal but it that was a forceful lunge gone wrong from the striker, who is lucky to escape without a caution. Swansea break from the free kick as Lamah finds Michu, but the Spaniard's finish is well below bar and drifts well wide of the far post.
SUBSTITUTION: Norwich make their final change as midfielder Alex Tettey makes his return from a knee injury. Norwich are desperate to win but must be careful at the other end, with every point precious at this stage of the season.
YELLOW CARD! Turner becomes the latest player to be booked for a late lunge on Michu, but more importantly gives away a free kick 25 yards from goal. De Guzman wins the right to take after a lengthy discussion, but sends a central effort straight to Camp with little power behind it. At the other end Norwich break as Holt gets booked after handing off Chico in the area.
Camp smashes a scuffed clearance out for a throw in as Swansea come forward late on. Norwich clear and have men forward, but Kamara's driving run inside is cruelly stopped by cynical late challenge from De Guzman. Snodgrass has successive strikes blocked before Holt has a penalty appeal turned away.
SHOT! The fourth official signals for a minimum of four extra minutes as Swansea win back possession high up the pitch. Hernandez drives deep into the area and picks out Michu with a clever cutback, but for the second time in the last 10 minutes his finish is a real disappointment and flies over.
Tettey gives away a last-gasp free kick near the corner flag for a stupid challenge on Tiendalli. Swansea send numbers forward for De Guzman's delivery, but the referee stops play for a foul in the penalty are against the visitors.
FULL-TIME Norwich City 2-2 Swansea City
A frantic encounter comes to an end, with both sides made to settle for a point. Norwich will be bitterly disappointed not to win after leading with 20 minutes to play. Swansea showed enough to merit their point and stop a run of three successive league defeats.
Thanks for joining Sports Mole for a pulsating encounter at Carrow Road. Be sure to visit us again this afternoon for analysis of a hard-fought clash and complete coverage of all today's Premier League action.