Mouthwatering match-ups: Key City v United duels at Carrow Road
PUBLISHED: 06:05 25 October 2019 | UPDATED: 08:43 25 October 2019
Manchester United’s name may be more intimidating at present than their bark on the pitch, but the Canaries will need to edge a number of key duels in Sunday’s Premier League showdown. Paddy Davitt picks out five areas.
Tim Krul v David De Gea
Krul was an ever-present in Norwich's Championship title success and now one of the most influential players in the Carrow Road dressing room.
Brings genuine Premier League nous and experience but also comfortable sparking the play with the ball at his feet in the mould Daniel Farke demands.
His recent injury absence from the side and then his return in the 0-0 draw at Bournemouth underlined how vital he is behind a youthful backline at this level.
De Gea at his best has been regarded as one of the top keepers in the world. The only Manchester United player to win their player-of-the-year four times, the 28-year-old has kept 131 clean sheets in 372 appearances. Excellent shot stopper on his day and following a difficult first season in England now far more commanding in the air.
Despite United's struggles to challenge again for top honours in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, the Spanish international has won the title and both domestic cups plus the Europa League since moving to Old Trafford in 2011.
The Spaniard remained in England while United continued their Europa League quest on Thursday night but is expected to be fit for Carrow Road.
Jamal Lewis v Dan James
So easy to forget Lewis' age, such is the seamless manner he has emerged as first choice for club and country.
The 21-year-old is closing in on 75 league appearances already and has been a key part of Northern Ireland's bid for Euro 2020 qualification.
By his own admission, the left-back needed to add an attacking dimension to his play after a full breakthrough season ended with a Championship title winners' medal. On the early evidence of City's Premier League campaign there is no debating he offers forward thrust down that left.
James is another 21-year-old who was plucked from Swansea, after a proposed January move to Leeds fell through. Started in red hot goalscoring form with three in his first four Premier League games for United.
A thorn in City's side as well on his last visit to Carrow Road, where his searing pace made it an uncomfortable night for Krul.
Lewis may have to curb his own attacking instincts to ensure James is well-marshalled, particularly on the counter, as demonstrated by his role in Marcus Rashford's goal on Sunday against Liverpool.
Max Aarons v Aaron Wan-Bissaka
If you pay any attention to the transfer gossip columns this is a positional match up between the right back Manchester United signed for a reported £50m in the summer and the one they might have targeted if Crystal Palace had played hard ball.
Two young English full-backs with growing reputations. Aarons has also taken over Wan-Bissaka's mantle for the England Under-21s.
Now back in the mix for his club after an ankle injury temporarily halted his meteoric progress, last season's Football League young player was in deep water at Anfield in that opening night first half blitz but now looks increasingly comfortable at this level.
At 19, his potential is truly frightening.
Wan-Bissaka got his mega-money move following an eye-catching season at Selhurst Park.
The 21-year-old out-performed every other Premier League full-back for clearances, tackles won, tackle success rate and interceptions. Much like his younger rival, a pure athlete with an appetite to get forward.
Ben Godfrey v Marcus Rashford
Another possible duel between two Young Lions. Godfrey's importance to Norwich this injury-hit season was underlined by the sharp intake of breath from Daniel Farke sat on the Bournemouth bench early in the second half, after Godfrey's adverse reaction to recent hernia surgery.
Godfrey is expected to be fit for duty this Sunday and City will need him for his leadership. Callum Wilson got precious little change at the Vitality Stadium before his untimely exit.
Aggressive in the challenge and with the pace to more than match most in the channels h would be the first to admit there remain areas of his game to work on, but with Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand in his corner he has the perfect mentor.
Rashford is the local boy making good.
The 21-year-old is on the cusp of a special goalscoring landmark as he hunts his 50th in United colours.
Still some debate about his best position across the frontline, but what is not in doubt is he possesses all the natural gifts to be a top Premier League operator. A leg race between these two could be very interesting.
Teemu Pukki v Harry Maguire
The free transfer against the man who arrived at Old Trafford for reportedly the thick end of £80m.
Two established internationals and two talismanic figures for their respective teams. Pukki is shouldering a heavy burden leading the Canaries' line.
His first seven games for club and country this season brought eight goals and plenty of praise but the Finn has suffered more than most from Norwich's recent difficult spell.
The 29-year-old notched the winner against the Reds' cross-town rivals at Carrow Road and these are the sort of occasions he will have relished after spearheading a Championship title charge.
Maguire's star shone in England's march to the World Cup semi-finals. A powerhouse of a defender and a major aerial presence in both penalty boxes but deceptively good with the ball at his feet and possesses a decent range of passing.
United will know stopping Pukki blunts Norwich's main attacking threat. Expect Maguire to be the man deployed to try and attempt the job.