Norwich City will hope the victory at Cardiff City last time out is the start of a winning run, a run that would keep David Wagner in his job for longer and justify the patience shown by the Canaries hierarchy who haven’t dismissed the German despite outside pressures to do so.
QPR are the visitors to Carrow Road for Wagner’s men to contend with up next, the Hoops now managed by Martí Cifuentes who is a relatively unknown entity to English football fans.
His task will be to keep the west Londoners afloat in the Championship, with relegation a very real possibility.
Wagner’s task will be picking a side that he believes can pick up three points at the expense of QPR this weekend – back-to-back victories as a result of dispatching Cifuente’s men with confidence the hopeful outcome for the under-pressure boss.
With that in mind, here is how Norwich could line up on Saturday, with five changes from the recent win over Cardiff.
GK – Angus Gunn
The first potential change for the Canaries ahead of Saturday’s game could be the reintroduction of Angus Gunn in goal, the Scottish shot-stopper was sidelined with an injury recently but could be back for QPR, according to reports.
Norwich’s stand-in goalkeeper option George Long hasn’t set the world alight with his goalkeeping displays in Gunn’s absence – conceding ten goals from four full starts since Gunn’s injury – and so the 27-year-old should come back in against the Hoops if fully ready.
RB – Jack Stacey
Norwich’s second potential change for this game could see Jack Stacey brought back into the starting line-up, benched last time out versus Cardiff before Wagner introduced him into the contest at half-time.
It was an ingenious substitute decision, Stacey strong and hard into his challenges with four of his five aerial and ground duels won, as per Sofascore.
Kellen Fisher won’t be too disheartened to drop out for the experienced Stacey, as the 19-year-old right-back starting was a surprising inclusion.
CB – Shane Duffy
Another change that could happen is Shane Duffy coming back into the starting lineup after missing the Bluebirds victory owing to suspension, with Norwich in need of a leader at the back and Duffy could well be that versus QPR.
Jaden Warner would be the player sacrificed for Duffy to start, the former Norwich U21s captain out of his depth against Cardiff in spells – the 21-year-old failing to win a single ground or aerial duel in Wales.
Whereas, Duffy’s game centres on his ability to win duels and challenges with brute force. The 1-1 draw with Coventry City at the start of October showcased the Irishman at his best, clearing a shot off the line at one point, as per Sofascore, to keep the rampant Sky Blues attackers at bay.
CB – Danny Batth
Batth should retain his spot where others could drop out at the back, the 33-year-old a colossus versus the Bluebirds despite two goals ending up in the back of the Canaries net.
Where Warner lacked in aggression, Batth more than made up for it – winning an astounding ten aerial duels in his side’s favour, whilst also accurately playing five out of nine long balls away to kickstart a possible counter-attack.
Signed by Norwich in September from Sunderland for defensive cover, Batth should start again this time around.
LB – Dimitrios Giannoulis
Another change at the back could see Dimitrios Giannoulis chosen ahead of makeshift full-back Przemysław Płacheta, the Greek defender far more at home playing in this role than his Polish counterpart.
Away with Greece on international duty this week, Giannoulis put in a valiant display against France – even assisting fellow compatriot Fotis Ioannidis for a goal – which should see the 28-year-old come back into the starting lineup off the back of a positive time away with his country.
CDM – Gabriel Sara
Norwich’s Brazilian export continues to shine even when the mood around Norwich is sour, the 24-year-old notching up five goals and five assists this season even in an underperforming team.
Sara will be the first name on the team sheet on Saturday, Wagner hoping his midfielder can be a hero again and help his team pick up a second successive victory in the league with a goal contribution.
CDM – Kenny McLean
At Norwich now since 2018, Kenny McLean has been a regular in the first-team set-up through the bad times and the good that have followed the Yellows in recent years.
The Scotsman adds experience to the line-up too alongside the bright spark of Sara, a valued member of Wagner’s squad which should see the German retain him.
RM – Christian Fassnacht
Christian Fassnacht has been a no-thrills figure for the Canaries this season, plugging along with competent displays from right midfield.
His performance versus Cardiff, however, was anything but run-of-the-mill, scoring the opening strike up against the Bluebirds.
For that goal contribution alone, he should be safe in starting on Saturday.
CAM – Marcelino Núñez
Norwich have a second South American figure they can rely on in the middle of the park in Marcelino Núñez, who should be in from the get-go against the Hoops on Saturday.
Núñez is a steady presence in that attacking midfield role for Wagner’s men and has starred this season even in losses, the Chilean number 26 tried his best during the 3-1 Blackburn Rovers defeat with seven shots attempted in the match, as per Sofascore.
It was to no avail unfortunately for the midfielder, but he’ll try his luck again when facing off against relegation-threatened opposition this weekend.
LM – Jonathan Rowe
Battling with his fitness ahead of the game at the weekend – Rowe picking up a knock on International duty with the England U21s – Wagner could well risk starting his star man regardless of whether or not he is nursing a potentially serious injury.
Even Rowe at half fitness should do a job against a leaky QPR side, the 20-year-old breakthrough talent is of paramount importance to the stumbling Canaries this season with seven goals and one assist in the Championship from down the channels.
ST – Adam Idah
Adam Idah could benefit enormously from the striker position at Carrow Road being up for grabs, with Wagner choosing Nottingham Forest loanee Hwang Ui-jo to lead the line in recent weeks.
But, Idah’s goal off the bench against the Bluebirds to win the exciting contest 3-2 has surely played him into contention for a start against QPR.
Described as “raw” by Wagner, the Canaries faithful will want their homegrown talent to build on that undoubted potential
Predicted Norwich XI vs QPR: GK – Gunn; RB – Stacey, CB – Duffy, CB – Batth, LB – Dimitrios Giannoulis; CDM – Sara, CDM – McLean; RM – Fassnacht, CAM – Nunez, LM – Rowe; ST – Idah