Norwich City v Sunderland

This week’s Sunday afternoon action comes from Carrow Road as a rejuvenated Norwich City host Sunderland.

Those at note how the Canaries come into this clash on the back of a superb seven match unbeaten run with the midweek draw at Southampton being the latest point to be added to the tally.

It marks a remarkable turnaround for Chris Hughton’s side who were soundly beaten by both Liverpool and Chelsea in quick succession prior to the last international break, but have since gone on to deservedly beat the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United as they rapidly climb the Premier League table.

The foundations of the run have been built on a new found defensive solidarity with Sébastien Bassong and Michael Turner in particular forming a superb partnership at the heart of the backline in addition to the fantastic form of John Ruddy.

However, the Norfolk outfit will now have to do without the services of Ruddy after he was ruled out for three months with a torn thigh muscle meaning that Mark Bunn will deputise in goal going into the new year.

Despite their great recent form, the Canaries haven’t scored as many goals as they would have liked and will be hoping to put that right against a Black Cats team that have also found goals hard to come by.

Steven Fletcher has the scored the vast majority of goals that the Wearside club have managed to register, putting pay to critics who suggested that Sunderland had paid well over the odds to secure his services from relegated Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The clash at Carrow Road marks a year since Martin O’Neill took the reins at the Stadium of Light and it would be fair to say that he won’t be wholly satisfied with his work to date with the Black Cats precariously close to the relegation zone.

A victory here would go a long way to making things altogether more comfortable but the bookies see them as outsiders to do so at 13/5 whilst the home side are available at 11/10.

Having said that, this has the potential to be a very tight game between two evenly matched teams on paper and it could be up to the respective strike forces to separate the sides.

Canaries forward Grant Holt has hit double figures in each of the last three campaigns for Norwich and again leads the way this time out with three to his name at this point. For that reason, he is the favourite to break the deadlock here at 5/1 but the aforementioned Fletcher will also fancy his chances at 6/1.

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