Apr 11, 2014, 6:38 PM EDT
- Fulham are unbeaten vs Norwich in last five meetings
- Norwich are winless in last 13 matches against bottom-six teams, with six losses
- The sum of the table positions of Norwich’s remaining opponents is 14. Fulham’s is 42.
An enormous relegation battle takes place at Craven Cottage Saturday at 10:07am ET on NBCSN or live online at NBC Sports Live Extra.
18th vs 17th is as crucial as it gets, and neither team can afford anything less than three points.
Neil Adams will debut as Norwich’s caretaker manager, taking over for the recently fired Chris Hughton. It’s still somewhat surprising that Norwich would make such a drastic move with this enormous fixture looming, but nonetheless the managerial change was made.
Fulham sit five points behind Norwich, but with the Canaries’ brutal remaining schedule, a win would presumably put the Whites in control of their own destiny.
After this match, Norwich must finish their season against Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal. Meanwhile, Fulham’s stretch run consists of Tottenham, Hull City, Stoke City, and Crystal Palace.
Injuries will play a part in the match no doubt. Fulham will be sweating a pair of central defenders, with Dan Burn likely out and Johnny Heitinga a question mark after coming off early in last week’s win over Aston Villa. Norwich, meanwhile, will still be without Leroy Fer who remains sidelined with a bum hamstring.
What they’re saying:
Robert Snodgrass on Norwich relegation fight: “People speak about five cup finals. We’ll approach every single game believing we can win the game and it’s our cup final. There’s no hiding place. Let’s go and have a go.”
Norwich majority shareholder on Adams: “He was always one of my favourite players,” Smith said. “He was the best penalty taker, the best pundit when he retired and now he’s the best manager – he is wonderful.”
Fulham manager Felix Magath on Norwich: “For us it doesn’t matter who is the opponent because we have only important games now, but Norwich have a very bad schedule. They have very, very difficult games ahead. They’ve changed manager now and that will give them new energy and so we have to be careful. They will fight for 90 minutes.”
There’s no doubt that a new manager can give a team a boost, but such a critical change at such a critical time is hard to back. Norwich struggles against Fulham historically, and the Whites are beginning to settle under their new boss. With so much on the line, it’s easy to see lots of attacking play and lots of struggling defenses. 3-2 to the home side is a tempting play.
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