Norwich City-West Brom Preview
LONDON (SE) - The Hawthorns will host a festive treat on Saturday afternoon when the two surprise packages of the Premier League season, West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City, meet.
West Brom may have just a point from their last four league games, but started the campaign with such a bang that they remain just two points off the Champions League places, and striker Shane Long is convinced that the team will rediscover their spark.
"I think we are playing very well and the chances we get we're not converting," said Long. "In training we're finding the top and bottom corners, it's just a blip that every team goes through at one stage, it's all about how you recover from it. If we keep performing like we are I'm sure the results will start going our way."
Visitors Norwich are one of the form teams in the division, pulling clear of the relegation zone and establishing themselves in the top half of the table thanks to a ten-match unbeaten run. The Canaries face Chelsea and Manchester City at Carrow Road in their remaining two matches of 2012, before travelling to West Ham on New Year's Day, but manager Chris Hughton is not overly daunted by the challenge.
"It has to be very much one game at a time," said Hughton. "Once you get through that first game in the sequence of four you see how you have come through that in terms of fatigue or injury or result and the next squad will generally be based on what you have seen. It is the same for everybody. It is not like we are playing a series of games and the rest are not.
"This is a time when everybody wants to be involved, but we have two tough away games and two games at home that do not get any tougher."
Steven Reid (knock), Claudio Yacob (hamstring), Liam Ridgewell (ankle) and Ben Foster (groin) are doubtful for the Baggies. Norwich are without John Ruddy (hip), while Grant Holt (hamstring), Andrew Surman (knee), Harry Kane (foot) and Ryan Bennett (knee) are injury doubts.
Only the two Manchester clubs have a better home record than West Brom this season, who have taken 19 points from their nine games at The Hawthorns, despite picking up just a point from the last two.
Norwich have allowed just eight goals in their ten-game unbeaten run, and their win against Swansea the last time they travelled in the league ended a run of ten straight away matches without victory.
The away team won both meetings between these clubs last season, with the Canaries running out 2-1 winners at The Hawthorns in January 2012. Norwich also won at the ground by the same score-line in the FA Cup fourth round just two weeks later. Whichever team has been playing away from home has won six of the last seven between these two in all competitions (a 2-0 West Brom home win in 2007 the lone exception).