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Preview: Norwich City vs. Stoke City

Sports Mole previews the Premier League clash between Norwich City and Stoke City at Carrow Road.

Norwich City will be looking to kick on from their first win of the season last week when they play Stoke City at Carrow Road.

The Canaries produced a fine display to beat Sunderland 3-1, while the Potters registered their first point of the campaign with a 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur.


Norwich

Norwich boss Alex Neil watches on intently as his team take on Sunderland on August 15, 2015© Getty Images

Alex Neil's men notched their first win of the Premier League season against the Black Cats as they hammered them 3-1 at the Stadium of Light.

Russell Martin, Steven Whittaker and Nathan Redmond all got on the scoresheet to fire the Canaries to victory, earning three vital points over a potential rival at the bottom of the table.

Redmond continued his good start to the season with his second goal of the campaign following his strike against Crystal Palace on the opening day, and Neil will be hopeful that the England Under-21 international can kick on to be a key contributor for his team in the top flight.

Norwich played with freedom against Sunderland and proved to be solid at the back, which will have pleased Neil after their defeat to Palace where they were cut open by Alan Pardew's men, despite putting in a promising display at Carrow Road.

The Canaries will be determined to cash in on matches against teams expected to be in and around them in the table to pick up valuable points in their quest to remain in the division.

Their home form last season could have cost them an automatic promotion place, and Neil will be hopeful that his side can begin to repeat their form from on the road at Carrow Road, as the Scot has never tasted defeat in an away game during his tenure at the club.

Defensively the 34-year-old will want his side to perform a shutout sooner rather than later to build their confidence at the back, but their abilities will be tested by the Potters' potent attack in their showdown on Saturday.

Recent form: LWLWLW


Stoke

Mark Hughes, manager of Stoke City looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Queens Park Rangers and Stoke City at Loftus Road on September 20, 2014© Getty Images

Mark Hughes's men secured their first point of the season courtesy of a late comeback in their clash against Spurs at White Hart Lane.

Marko Arnautovic and Mame Biram Diouf fired late goals to bring the Potters from 2-0 down to secure a 2-2 draw, much to the delight of their manager.

Stoke were cut open at the back by Mauricio Pochettino's side in the first half at the Lane, but displayed resilience after the break to earn their first point of the campaign.

The Potters appear to be missing the reassuring presence of captain Ryan Shawcross, who is out for two months with a back problem, as Geoff Cameron and Marc Muniesa struggled at times during the clash against Spurs.

Record signing Xherdan Shaqiri should make his debut for the club in the match at Carrow Road after he served his one-match ban following his sending-off in a Coppa Italia game last season.

The Switzerland international will bolster Hughes's men's attacking prowess in the final third to add further goals to a team that notched almost 50 goals in the league last season.

Stoke were middle of the pack with their away form in the last campaign, but Hughes will be looking for a slight improvement which could lead his side into the reckoning for a Europa League place come the end of the season.

Recent form: WLLLLD


Team News

Norwich's Russell Martin celebrates scoring the opener against Sunderland on August 15, 2015© Getty Images

Norwich have no new concerns over injuries heading into the clash against the Potters, but they are still without midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu due a foot injury.

Kyle Lafferty is also out of action with a knee injury, but Martin Olsson could return to the bench following his lay-off.

However, Neil is likely to stick with the same lineup that beat Sunderland with Cameron Jerome leading the line in a 4-5-1 formation, although Lewis Grabban could push for a starting berth.

Stoke are without Shawcross for another six weeks due to his back injury, while Peter Odemwingie, Marc Wilson and Bojan Krkic are also out of contention due their respective fitness problems.

Shaqiri is likely to make his debut for the Potters in the match, with Jonathan Walters expected to drop to the bench to accommodate the arrival of the Swiss.

Philipp Wollscheid could come into the back four at the expense of Cameron, but Erik Pieters is also at risk in the lineup, with the possibility of Muniesa shifting to left-back.

Norwich possible starting lineup:
Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin, Bassong, Brady; Redmond, Tettey, Dorrans, Howson; Hoolahan; Jerome

Stoke possible starting lineup:
Butland; Johnson, Cameron, Muniesa, Pieters; Whelan, Van Ginkel, Shaqiri, Afellay, Arnautovic; Diouf


Head To Head

The last meeting between the sides ended in a 1-1 draw, in which Stoke came from behind to earn a point at Carrow Road as Walters scored from the spot to cancel out Bradley Johnson's opener. However, the forward was then dismissed five minutes later to force his side to hold out for the draw.

Jonny Howson scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 victory for Norwich at the Britannia Stadium in the prior meeting in the 2013-14 campaign.

Over the course of history, Stoke have shaded the contest by recording 19 wins ahead of Norwich's 17, while 15 of the matches have ended in draws.


Video Preview

Hit play below to see what the Sports Mole Sofa had to say about this encounter:


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Norwich 2-2 Stoke

Both teams have played some good football at the start of the campaign, especially in the final third of the pitch. There could be little to separate the sides at Carrow Road as Hughes and Neil may be forced to settle for a share of the spoils.



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Harry Kane of Spurs wears the captain's armband during the Barclays Premier League match between Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on April 5, 2015
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