'Unbelievably organised' - Defensive kings Swansea will pose familiar test for Canaries
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
The defensive resilience of Millwall and Middlesbrough left Norwich City frustrated and head coach Daniel Farke is expecting another difficult game against promotion rivals Swansea, who have the best defence in the Championship.
Only the Swans (15) and Watford (20) have conceded fewer than the leaders' 21 goals so far and Steve Cooper's side go into tonight's televised clash (8.15pm kick-off) looking to move back into second place and to within two points of City, with a game in hand as well.
“Swansea played Barnsley and Barnsley had more possession, Swansea played at QPR and QPR had more possession," Farke said of the South Wales side, using two of their recent 2-0 away wins as examples of their playing style.
“In their home game against Brentford (a 1-1 draw) it was Brentford who was there with nearly 70 per cent of possession and nearly 20 shots at goal.
“So Swansea are unbelievably organised. Steve is doing a fantastic job, they are so solid and so consistent, on a decent run of form, a (seven-game) unbeaten run and they are definitely one of the main competitors for the title this season.
“They have fantastic lads, unbelievably experienced players, really good, from Bennett, to Hourihane, to Ayew. Top players on this level and top offensive players as well.
“But in general their biggest strength is that they can defend unbelievably well and unbelievably deep, then they have the quality up front to be there with Ayew and Lowe to be that clinical in using their chances.
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“So I’m really not sure if it will have to be a game where we defend and they open up more space, I’m not sure if it will be completely different to the games against Middlesbrough and Millwall from the approach.”
The City boss is not buying into the hype of tonight's big game either, with both teams hoping to be battling for the title in a couple of months' time.
“If it was the 44th game of the season then, yes, perhaps we could make a bit more out of this game. Right now it is just an important game like all of the other games are," Farke added.
“In general, we are in a really good position in the league and if we are realistic then we need 25 more points to be safely in the play-offs, probably less but to be safe we need 80 points to be in the play-offs.
“If we want to finish in the direct promotion ranks we need 35 points, so this is the situation before the game and if we win a few points then we just have to win fewer in the last games.
“It’s an important game, yes, but no important than any other game. In the end you never know who is fighting for the best ranks in the league.”
The Canaries beat the Swans 1-0 at Carrow Road in November, thanks to Marco Stiepermann's late winner, who is still recovering from an energy-sapping virus - with Farke set to have the same squad available that he did at Millwall on Tuesday.