Chris Hughton’s Canaries take on all conquering Man United at Old Trafford.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has told his players they are on the verge of a “big year” as they hunt down a memorable treble.
Ferguson, whose side host Norwich on Saturday, is eyeing up his second treble, winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League in the same season, and has called on his players to stand up and be counted as the pressure mounts over the final weeks of the season.
The Scot has told his stars that they will have to get used to the idea that many of them will not start every game as he looks to rotate his squad to ensure they remain fresh and injury free to challenge on all three fronts.
United are in the perfect position to chop and change as they sit 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League, allowing Ferguson to rest several key players against Norwich before their decisive Champions League last 16 second leg encounter with Real Madrid on Tuesday.
“The players sense it could be a big year for them. But at this club, in this situation, anything can happen on the run-in,” he said.
“Players can all of a sudden find themselves playing in a final or an important league game because that is the kind of squad I have.”
Ferguson revealed he had to speak with disappointed players who did not feature in their 1-1 draw against Real at the Bernabeu.
“It is very difficult to rotate the squad at the moment,” he said. “They all wanted to play against Real Madrid and there were a lot of disappointed players.
“That was fantastic. It is a measure of their own confidence in themselves.
“But we had a chat. I said ‘look, don’t think for a minute losing a game for Manchester United is a trivial matter’. It is a serious matter.”
United striker Wayne Rooney could feature against Norwich having recovered from a sinus infection and come on as a second-half substitute in last weekend’s win at QPR.
The clash with Norwich is the first of four home games in a row for United who follow it up with Madrid, before an FA Cup quarter-final with Chelsea and then the visit of Reading in the league.
“We’re hopeful that we can take full advantage of this spell,” Ferguson added.
Norwich manager Chris Hughton is hoping his side can recreate the performance that saw them shock the Premier League leaders earlier this season at Carrow Road.
The Canaries beat United 1-0 and after last weekend’s victory against Everton, Hughton revealed his side go into the clash high in confidence.
“The win over Man United was one of our best performances this season. For us to repeat that at Old Trafford would take a huge effort, but we’re ready,” said Hughton.
“United have only lost one game at home this season so the magnitude of the task is still there, but we are certainly better going into it for the result of last weekend.”
With United well clear of second placed Manchester City in the title race, Hughton cannot see Ferguson’s team throwing it away even though he would like his side dent their advantage on Saturday.
“United are clear favourites for the title this season, they’ve got a great lead. Do I see them losing that? No I don’t,” he added.
Venue Old Trafford, Saturday 3pm
Last season Man Utd 2 Norwich 0
Referee Neil Swarbrick
This season’s matches 11 Y38, R0, 3.45 cards per game
Subs from Lindegaard, Ferdinand, Vidic, Valencia, Van Persie, Carrick, Young, Welbeck, Cleverley, Powell, Buttner
Injured Jones (ankle, 5 Mar), Scholes (knee, 16 Mar), Fletcher (bowel, Aug)
Form guide WWWWDW
Disciplinary record Y43 R0
Leading scorer Van Persie 19
Subs from Camp, Rudd, Whittaker, Fox, Jackson, Pilkington, E Bennett, Becchio, Barnett, Tierney, R Bennett, Murphy
Injured Surman (knee, 9 Mar), Tettey (knee, 9 Mar), Ruddy (thigh, 20 Mar)
Form guide WDDDLD
Disciplinary record Y34 R0
Leading scorer Holt 5
Norwich last won at Old Trafford in August 1989, a 2-0 win in the old Division One.
In five Premier League visits to Old Trafford, Norwich have drawn once and lost the rest.
Manchester United have not lost a Premier League match since a 1-0 defeat at Norwich on 17 November.
Only one team in Premier League history has gained more points from their opening 27 games than United’s 68 this
season (Chelsea had 69 in 2005-06).
United have scored the same number of goals (63) as Chelsea did in 2009-10 after 27 games. Chelsea went on to end the season with a record 103 goals.
Nani has assisted more goals than any other player in the Premier League since August 2009 (32).
Rafael’s goal against QPR was United’s 12th by a defender this Premier League season. That is the most for any club (Chelsea and Norwich have eight goals by defenders).
Against Everton last weekend, Norwich engineered a come-from-behind win for the first time since March 2012 (2-1 at home against Wolves).
In doing so, they also ended a run of nine Premier League matches without victory.
Kei Kamara became the first player from Sierra Leone to score a goal in the Premier League with his header against Everton.
Striker Grant Holt has now scored 20 Premier League goals for Norwich City – only Chris Sutton (33) has scored more for The Canaries.
Man United to win 5-0 at 25/1: Manchester United vs Norwich City Betting