Swansea boss’ warning as Premier League new boys meet
Swansea City boss Brendan Rodgers has warned his players that Norwich City do not provide an easy option as they seek their first away points of the Premier League season.
The two newly-promoted sides meet at Carrow Road tomorrow (3pm) with the Swans yet to claim any reward on their travels after defeats at Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea.
But Rodgers, whose team were beaten 2-0 in the corresponding fixture last season, admitted: “Games at Norwich or Wolves are just as difficult as games at Manchester City or Chelsea in their own way.
“We had a chance to win at Norwich last year, but we missed that opportunity and ended up losing the game late on. Our aim is to better that this year, but we know it’s going to be very difficult for us.
“Any away win in the Premier League is hard to come by.”
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The Canaries finished the 2010-11 Championship season four points clear of third-placed Swansea, who had to take the longer route to promotion through the play-offs, and Rodgers knows what to expect tomorrow.
“They are a team with a lot of quality players,” he said. “They have adapted their system a little bit this season, but they still have the core of the group that got them promoted last season.
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“They want to play good football, that’s Paul Lambert’s way, and they always keep going.
“They are hungry like we are, so this will be a very difficult game for us.”
Rodgers is keen to redress the balance between form at home – where the Swans have taken eight points without conceding a goal – and away, but said he was not worried by the contrast.
“We have started this season pretty much like we did last season. We were outstanding at home while away from home we did not pick up a point until we went to Watford on September 28, and this season has not been dissimilar,” he said.
“But the boys are keyed up to get that first away win and we hope it will come at Norwich this weekend.”
City boss Lambert was expected to give a fitness update at today’s Press conference, and will be hoping his international quartet have returned unscathed. Andrew Crofts and Steve Morison played for Wales in their last two Euro 2012 qualifiers, Simeon Jackson grabbed a hat-trick in one of his two appearances for Canada, and goalkeeper Declan Rudd spent part of the break with the England Under-21 squad.
Defender Zak Whitbread, out of action since the 3-1 defeat at Chelsea seven weeks ago, could be available after a hamstring injury but the Canaries still have a lengthy injury list with Elliott Ward (knee), Daniel Ayala (knee), James Vaughan (knee) and Korey Smith (ankle) all out of action and goalkeeper Jed Steer (thigh) back early from his loan spell at Yeovil.
Rodgers will again have just two fit centre-halves to select in Ashley Williams and Garry Monk, after being frustrated by the wait for international clearance over the short-term signing of Greece defender Vangelis Moras. Moras will be in the squad tomorrow if the required paperwork comes through, while midfielder Leon Britton is back to full fitness after suffering with back spasms.
Both teams can strike a blow for the Premier League’s promoted sides, who currently occupy ninth to 11th places in the table. Not since the 2001-02 campaign have all three promoted teams managed to stay up, in that instance Fulham, Blackburn and Bolton, but all three have made encouraging starts.
City, who conceded late goals in the home games against Stoke and Sunderland, are still looking for their first clean sheet of the season – having managed only four shut-outs on home territory last season, one against Swansea.
The Swans, who have scored just once in three away games, are guaranteed plenty of support after selling 1,200 of their allocation of 1,400 tickets ahead of the game.