London: After their hard-earned 3-2 win against Hull City away on Thursday, Manchester United will look to extend their winning run when they face Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday.
But their task won’t be easy. United have been beaten on two of their previous three visits to Norwich, in 2005 and 2012, but will be desperate to claim maximum points this time around.
Defending champions United chalked up their fifth straight win in all competitions on Thursday, in a match where Wayne Rooney scored his 150th Premier League goal for United.
Manchester City, who have won all their nine league games at the Etihad with a goal tally of 37-6, are at home to Crystal Palace, who have improved since Tony Pulis took over as manager and climbed out of the relegation zone for the first time since August with a 1-0 win at Aston Villa on Thursday.
But City underlined their title aspirations with a 2-1 win over Liverpool. Manuel Pellegrini’s free-scoring side have been unstoppable at home in the Premier League this season, winning all nine top-flight games and scoring 37 goals in the process.
History in this fixture is also on City’s side, with the hosts having won their last four matches against Palace, while they have not been beaten by the London club for 12 years.
Talking about United’s match, David Moyes’ men can take heart from the side’s victory at Hull.
“I never doubted us,” Moyes said. “I think that tells you what United have got and hopefully it tells you a bit about David Moyes as well.
“Hopefully my teams have always been committed to trying to win games of football.
“After being 0-2 down, to get back to 2-2 was terrific. But I actually felt a bit disappointed not be winning 3-2 by half-time because we had a few chances to do something more. But then, we are starting to show real character and I’m happy with the performance.”
Moyes still has some loose ends to tie up from the trip to East Yorkshire and must find a new right-back against Norwich.
Rafael sustained a groin injury in the first half against Hull and is unlikely to be fit after just a day’s rest, while Antonio Valencia, who dropped back from midfield to cover the position, is suspended after being sent off in injury time.
The likeliest solution involves switching Smalling from centre-half and bringing Nemanja Vidic back into the starting XI, but Moyes is not worrying about the reshuffle. “I’ll find a right-back, we have a big squad at Manchester United,” said the Scot. “We’ve plenty of players and plenty who can play on Saturday.”
United will also be without the services of Phil Jones, who has been ruled out for a fortnight with a knee injury. Van Persie is also among those unlikely to feature through injury.
The former Everton manager is already enjoying his best run of results as United boss and a sixth successive victory at Carrow Road would give the distinct appearance of a team on a roll.
Moyes, though, was playing down such talk.
“I think all the games at this time of year are difficult to call,” he said. “I expect Norwich to be another hard game. I think at this club you’re waiting on winning more games than this and then you might talk about being on a run.
“We’ll just try and win the next one and see what happens. All we can do is keep knocking away and hopefully be in there fighting come the end of the season.”