Norwich City-Manchester United Preview
LONDON (SE) - Manchester United's large cushion atop the Premier League affords them the luxury to rotate the squad ahead of a major Champions League match.
That may give Norwich City a chance at another upset.
United look to continue running away with the league by extending their unbeaten streak to a staggering 18 matches Saturday when they try to avenge a loss to the Canaries.
Manchester United (22-2-3) lead the Premier League by a whopping 12 points on second-place Manchester City with 11 games left. That could be important as the Red Devils attempt to make a run at repeating their legendary 1999 Treble, winning the league, Champions League and FA Cup.
While a league title seems increasing likely, they'll face underachieving Chelsea in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup on March 10.
Champions League, however, poses a much stiffer test. They tied Real Madrid 1-1 away in the first leg of their Round of 16 series, and meeting again Tuesday at Old Trafford, and that may cause Sir Alex Ferguson to rest key players versus Norwich (7-11-9).
One of those players may be Robin van Persie, whose 19 goals lead the Premier League. The forward was subbed off with a hip injury in the first half of last weekend's 2-0 win over Queens Park Rangers, but he still factors in the scoring by assisting on Rafael's spectacular strike from distance.
"He collided with a camera," Ferguson said. "It seems he hit the base of it and he has got a very bruised hip."
If van Persie is rested, that could mean Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck starting together up front.
Hernandez has six goals in his past eight matches, but he's only appeared in three during February, as Ferguson prefers to use the Mexican international from the substitutes' bench.
Welbeck has just one goal in his last 19 games - 12 starts - and replaced van Persie against QPR.
Ryan Giggs is likely to be back in the lineup to mark his 1,000th career game for both club and country. The 39-year-old midfielder only added to his legacy by scoring again last weekend.
"He's delivered again," Ferguson said. "He's an amazing man."
No one from Manchester United delivered versus Norwich on Nov. 17, as they fell 1-0 at Carrow Road. Hernandez was particularly poor as he failed to muster even a shot before being replaced by Welbeck in the 70th minute.
A meeting at Old Trafford may be better since the Red Devils have won the last two matchups there by a combined 4-1 score, and they enter this meeting unbeaten in 17 games (13-4-0).
Welbeck tallied late in a 2-0 victory in the most recent meeting there Oct. 1, 2011.
The Canaries are eying another upset after rallying to beat Everton 2-1 last weekend. Kei Kamara levelled the score in the 84th minute before Grant Holt snatched the victory in stoppage time after Norwich were held to one goal over the previous six games (0-2-4).
"I'm pleased for him. He is our captain, he drives this team on," manager Chris Hughton told the team's official website. "In that type of atmosphere there is no-one better to lead your line than Holty."
Holt has one goal in two career meetings with United.